State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
I was one of several legislators to sign a letter sent to Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation, requesting they take action to ease the cost of gas for consumers.
You can read the letter here.
I was one of several legislators to sign a letter sent to Governor Doyle asking him to veto from the budget repair bill the Property Tax Exemption for Low-Income Housing.
You can read the letter here.
The state Senate today approved the Great Lakes Compact. I am a strong advocate for a Compact that protects the quantity and quality of the Great Lakes. Because this document comes up short, I voted against the Compact.
For a year and a half, I served on the Legislative Council Special Study Committee on the Great Lakes Compact. The committee was outstanding, the most rewarding committee I have served on during my years in the Legislature. The makeup of the committee was amazing in that such a varied group of individuals including legislators from both parties, interest groups, businesspeople, environmentalists and university officials worked for countless hours on a critical issue of enormous magnitude. The debate and shared information was of an exceptional quality.
During today’s floor debate, I posed four questions about the Compact to Democrat state Senator Mark Miller. Senator Miller chairs the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and was instrumental in crafting the Compact legislation.
I asked Senator Miller who would resolve issues about the one state veto, communities in straddling counties, public trust doctrine, and the effect of the Compact on Indian tribes. Senator Miller answered that the federal courts would resolve questions. Legislation that lacks certainty and relinquishes authority to federal courts is not in the best interests of Wisconsin. On the question about the effect on the tribes, Senator Miller replied that he didn’t know.
Senator Miller’s answers sent a strong signal that if the Compact still had many unresolved issues, why should the Legislature endorse it? That prompted me to make a motion to refer the Compact back to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee for the proper work needed to improve the Compact. The motion failed.
The Compact contains the very problematic one state veto provision. Allowing one governor from another state to deny a water diversion to citizens that cannot vote for that governor is a very serious flaw in this document. To surrender our sovereignty to a regional body of governors that can make changes after the Compact is adopted is unacceptable. I do not support a document that gives up our sovereignty to another state.
The Compact as written contains page after page of language that lacks definition, as outlined by our highly respected Legislative Council. The significant amount of language lacking definition in the Compact indicates this issue almost certainly will wind up in federal courts for years and years to come.
Here is a link to a summary of the bill prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. (LFB).
The budget repair bill is problematic because it includes a raid on segregated funds, using the tobacco settlement money, delaying payments to schools and counties, more borrowing, and, can you believe it, more spending. This irresponsible package merely uses accounting mischief and borrowing to create fiscal problems in the near future, setting the stage for another budget crisis.
The director of the LFB, Bob Lang says that if this budget repair bill becomes law, the state will have a structural deficit of $1.7 billion. The structural deficit is caused by future budget spending commitments exceeding future expected revenues.
There are some troubling provisions contained in the bill, including a property tax exemption for housing projects funded by WHEDA, and yet another fiscally irresponsible raid of the Transportation Fund of $50 million.
A tobacco settlement restructuring to grab some ready cash allows the state to receive $1,626 million from 2008-09 through 2029-30, and the state would lose $2,414 million over the same period, resulting in a loss of $788 million.
The Wisconsin driver's license fee was increased by $10 to pay for the REAL ID law. The bill proposes the $10 be used for other purposes to balance the budget. Under this scenario, it is likely your license fee will increase another $10 in the next state budget to pay for the REAL ID law.
Deductions for rental payments and interest payments to related entities are eliminated, resulting in additional taxes on businesses. Democrats call the deductions the Wal-Mart loophole. When I drive past Wal-Mart parking lots, I see a lot of my constituents’ cars in those parking lots. I don’t take kindly to increasing the price they will pay for goods.
Tobacco settlement money would be used to pay for Badger Care and Medical Assistance.
Wisconsin’s Do Not Call List would be expanded to include cell phones. That and a few other policy items beg the question as to why policy measures have been inserted into a budget bill.
Add it all up and the budget repair bill does not repair a thing. It only causes fiscal chaos. I voted no.