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.
Reports indicate the state is headed for a disastrous $5 billion state budget deficit. The worst way to get out of a hole is to keep digging, i.e., increasing taxes and fees. And yet, it seems Wisconsin will continue its fiscally irresponsible practice of increasing taxes and fees at a time when they are least affordable.
Case in point: The Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management wants to increase the fees for businesses that are required to file emergency planning notifications or that store hazardous chemicals by a whopping 35 percent. Wisconsin hasn’t increased the fees since they were first implemented in 1990 and now is not a good time to start.
More than 7,000 facilities in Wisconsin would be affected by the fee increases. Currently, the emergency planning notification fee is $800 per facility and would increase to $1,080 under the proposed rule. The inventory form fee would increase across all levels of reporting requirements, ranging from $205 to $1540. The emergency planning notification fee is a one-time fee. The inventory form fee is an annual fee.
The additional fees are expected to increase revenues by $471,000; however, there is a larger issue to consider. If this is any indication how the state, in general, is going to address its fiscal crisis, as compared to other states that are cutting rather than increasing taxing and spending, Wisconsin’s economic problems will only become more severe.
One of Wisconsin’s great traditions, the annual deer hunt season that opens this Saturday is critical this year because a huge reduction in the deer herd is needed. Wisconsin has too many deer, but thinning the herd will be easier said than done.
Sadly, the number of hunters is on the decline. And the deer hunt starts later this year meaning the deer have finished mating and are less active, a prospect hunters would rather not think about. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also announced there are herd control rules that hunters don’t like.
Here are more details from the Associated Press.
The economic impact of this yearly rite of passage is an incredible $1.5 billion according to the DNR. The state of Wisconsin owes every hunter a huge thank you!
I am thrillled that my friend and Assemblyman, state Representative Mark Gundrum has arrived tonight at Mitchell International on a Midwest Airlines flight, having completed his tour of duty in Iraq and will now be able to spend the holidays with his wonderful family. Welcome home, Mark, and God bless you for your service to America!
Here are my previous blogs on Mark's deployment to Iraq:
January 2, 2008
March 28, 2008
July 2, 2008
Governor Doyle + Democrat controlled State Senate + Democrat controlled Assembly – QEO = big property tax increases
Now that Democrats control the governor’s mansion and both houses of the state Legislature, it is a pretty safe bet that there will be a serious effort to repeal the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2009. In the past, Governor Doyle has said the QEO (opposed by the state teacher’s union that strongly backs Governor Doyle) “isn’t working.” The governor needs a history lesson.
The QEO was instituted by the Legislature in 1993 after angry taxpayers statewide demanded action be taken to stop the tidal wave of huge property tax increases. Since its inception, the QEO has helped keep property taxes from being even higher than they already are.
Under the QEO, the compensation package for teachers including salaries and benefits is to be limited to a 3.8 percent increase. Prior to the implementation of the QEO, settlement packages with teachers were much larger, forcing a tremendous burden on taxpayers.
According to data from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) that used figures from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the average total teacher salary and benefit package increase in the years before the QEO was 8 percent during 1984-85, 8.4 percent during 1985-86, 7.7 percent during 1986-87, 7.4 percent during 1987-88, 7.1 percent during 1988-89, 7.3 percent during 1989-90, 7.4 percent during 1990-91 and 6.9 percent during both 1991-92 and 1992-93.
Enough was enough. Taxpayers protested. The Legislature heard and listened, and the QEO was adopted.
In reality, most school districts do not stay within the QEO, agreeing to settlements that surpass the 3.8 percent limit. The WASB reports that the average total package of salaries and benefits was 4.29 percent during 2006-07, 4.25 percent during 2005-06, and 4.31 percent during 2004-05. The percentages are higher than the rate of inflation, and more than likely are greater than increases provided in the private sector.
Watch for state Democrats from the top on down to prioritize the repeal of the QEO at a time when property taxpayers are already overburdened. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. writes, “Wisconsin Property Taxes: Among the Nation's Highest: Wisconsin is one of the 37 states that collect property taxes at both the state and local levels. As in most states, local governments collect far more. Wisconsin's localities collected $7,324,843,000 in property taxes in fiscal year 2004, which is the latest year the Census Bureau published state-by-state property tax collections. At the state level, Wisconsin collected $104,158,000 in property taxes during FY 2004, making its combined state/local property taxes $7,429,001,000. That brings its per capita collection to $1,350, which ranks 11th highest nationally.” Here is the full report
The governor and Democrats in the Legislature will be bound and determined to increase your taxes even higher, and that is exactly what will happen with elimination of the QEO.
The QEO must stay intact. Without the QEO, spending and taxes will rise substantially, more people will leave their homes, more people will leave the state, and more jobs will be lost. We cannot afford to lose the QEO.