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.
Now think about the time you have to work to earn enough money to afford those necessities.
In calculating this year’s Tax Freedom Day, the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. says, “Americans will work longer to pay for government (113 days) than they will for food, clothing and housing combined (108 days). In fact, Americans will work longer to afford federal taxes alone (74 days) than they will to afford housing (60 days). As a group, Americans will also work longer to pay state and local taxes than they will to pay for food.”
Tax Freedom Day, the day that workers will have earned enough to pay all their federal, state and local taxes, comes on April 23, 2008. Wisconsin’s Tax Freedom day, the 14th latest in the country, arrives one day later, April 24, 2008.
Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Tax Foundation determined America’s Tax Freedom Day by dividing the nation’s total tax payments, $3,910 billion, by the nation’s income as projected by the Tax Foundation for 2008, $12,696 billion. The result, 30.8% is then multiplied by 365 days, equaling 113 days. The 113th day of the year (TheTax Foundation ignored Leap Day) is April 23.
The annual study also breaks down the burden of the various taxes Americans pay, beginning with the largest and most visible, individual income and payroll taxes.
All but 7 states, impose a state income tax on top of the federal income tax. Each American will have to work 42 days to pay off income taxes.
Americans will work, according to the Tax Foundation, another 28 days to afford their payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, deductions that are clearly designated on payroll stubs. To pay for other add-on taxes like sales and excise taxes, Americans will work another 16 days.
We cannot forget local property taxes. That adds on another 12 days of work.
The Tax Foundation also calculates Americans have to work 13 days to pay for corporate income taxes, figuring that taxes on businesses do get passed on to individuals in the form of increased prices, smaller wages and employment levels, and lower stockholder values.
Add in one more day for estate and gift taxes and one more day for other taxes and the total number of work days needed to afford the tax burden is 113.
Here is the bottom line: You work long and hard to afford essentials like food and clothing. Nothing you work so hard for is as expensive as government.
Here is more information on Tax Freedom Day.
Hope all is going well back in beautiful Wisconsin. My wife has kept me informed of what a challenging winter it has been. But for a few sandstorms, the weather here in Iraq has been tolerable thus far, though it did hit 100 degrees earlier this week. I am sure I will be very envious of Wisconsin weather come summer.
I have been in Iraq for about a month and a half now. Serving our country in this capacity is one of the greatest honors an American can experience. My work is primarily focused on helping the rule of law take hold and, hopefully, one day thrive in Iraq. Because of my background in the state legislature and local government, I have also been plugged in a fair amount on Iraqi governance matters as well. Earlier this week, we convoyed into downtown Baghdad for a committee meeting of the Baghdad Provincial Council (a near-equivalent to our state legislature).
Most of my time is spent in Baghdad, though I did make a site visit to Mosul for several days to assess the extent to which the rule of law is taking hold there. We convoyed into town for some insightful meetings with local Iraqi judges, the police chief, and the jail administrator. Because al-Qaida in Iraq and insurgents are still very active in Mosul, we always had to make these visits unannounced and keep them efficient and fairly brief.
America and Iraq are at such an important crossroads for the future right now. There have been so many encouraging improvements in conditions over the past year in Iraq. The Iraqi Army and police force have begun picking up more of the security responsibilities that used to fall on Coalition shoulders alone. The national governing bodies - the Council of Representatives and Presidency Council, as well as the provincial governing bodies - like the Baghdad Provincial Council, have begun functioning like governing bodies in other more established democracies. Similarly, many Iraqi judges and other actors in the criminal justice system here are beginning to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law. It is exciting to see decisions being made by Iraqi officials based on debate, persuasion, justice, and a commitment to doing what is right, instead of out of fear for personal or family safety - as was the case for more than three decades under Saddam Hussein's regime and even just a year ago when terrorists and insurgents controlled portions of Iraq.
But things must be kept in perspective. There are many forces within (and some outside of) this country still actively committed to undermining a free and sovereign Iraq. Mortar and rocket attacks, car bombs, IEDs, suicide bombers, snipers, etc., attacking innocent Iraqis and American troops are still a very real part of life here. Corruption is still a concern throughout much of Iraq's government to a greater extent than in most other, more established democracies. And fear, though less than perhaps at anytime in the last few decades, is still a concern for honest, upright government officials here. That's why we are at such a crossroads.
The next several months will be quite telling. This is the time when Iraqis, from the policeman on the street to the shopkeeper on the corner to the highest government official, must take full responsibility for their sovereignty and freedom and make the sacrifices necessary to make it their own and make it permanent.
While here, I have been privileged to work with some amazing American patriots. So many wear a uniform - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Many are not service members, but are civilian government employees and contractors who have volunteered to come to Iraq because they too want to serve their country in this capacity. Many of these service members and civilians have made tremendous sacrifices to come here and do their part for our country.
America is so great and strong, however, not just because there are service members willing to go to far off lands to fight for our country - but because other great Americans - the ones who are back at home, also step up to the plate and do their part by supporting service members while deployed. That is something my family has been very blessed to experience first-hand over the past few months.
Thank you to all those who have helped clear our driveway during one of the worst winters ever, who have made meals for my family - so my wife could use that time to tend to the needs of our six children, who have bought groceries for our family, watched the children in times of need, and have helped in so many, many other ways.
Please remember to pray for the military spouses and children left behind when a loved one goes off to serve. It takes a significant toll on the family. Though many months of my deployment still remain, for my family that toll has been lessened substantially thanks to the great generosity of so many wonderful friends, family and neighbors. Other service members may not be so fortunate. If you know someone who is deployed, please consider offering to help their family in some small way. The impact it makes for that family and the peace of mind it helps provide the service member serving overseas is substantial.
Once again, my family and I wish to say 'Thank You' for all the support we have received during these initial months of my deployment.
The comments herein represent only the opinions of the author and are in no way meant to represent the views of the United States government or the military.
PHOTO 1: Mark and Major Michael Hert, of the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Green Bay, pause with their convoy prior to heading into downtown Baghdad for a Baghdad Provincial Council committee meeting.
An anti-property taxpayer bill was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Doyle.
Assembly Bill 580 (AB 580) passed 94-3 in the state Assembly and 32-1 in the state Senate. I was the lone dissenting vote in the Senate on AB 580 and here’s why.
According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, under current law, if any property is assessed at a value that is different from the property’s value in the previous year, the assessor must inform the property owner of the new assessment. It must be done in writing, at least 15 days before the first meeting of the taxation district board of review.
Any taxpayer that receives a notice of changed assessment may challenge the assessment by submitting an objection to the board. The board then holds a hearing on the objection and, ultimately, decides whether the assessment is correct or whether the assessment should be changed based on the taxpayer’s objection. If the taxpayer does not agree with the decision of the board, the taxpayer may appeal the decision to the circuit court. If the court finds any error in the board’s proceedings that renders the assessment or the proceedings void, the court remands the assessment to the board for further proceedings.
AB 580 makes changes to the current procedure.
Under AB 580, the review board must grant a taxpayer a 60−day extension for a hearing of the taxpayer’s objection to a changed assessment. The 60-day extension is granted only if the taxation district has approved an ordinance authorizing extensions. The objecting taxpayers must submit a request for the extension and pay a $100 fee.
Here is another provision of the new law that is troubling. If the taxpayer challenges the assessment, the court will presume that the review board’s assessment is correct. That appears to create a court scenario that is unfair and biased.
Property taxpayers in Wisconsin already bear a heavy burden. Stacking the deck against them in court before a hearing even begins, assuming that the assessor is correct, and slapping them with a fee is bad public policy. The Governor should have vetoed this bill.
Here is a copy of the new law, 2007 Wisconsin Act 86.
The law will provide law enforcement guidelines to address the severity of strangulation and prosecute as a felony.
Under this law, anyone who intentionally impedes the normal breathing or blood circulation of another person by applying pressure on the throat or neck, or by blocking the nose or mouth, of the other person is guilty of a Class H felony. Violators could be fined up to $10,000, be imprisoned up to six years, or both. The law expands the definition of a “dangerous weapon” to include a ligature or any other instrument used on the throat, neck, nose, or mouth of another person to impede, partially or completely, breathing or circulation of blood, and includes strangulation and suffocation in the definition of a “violent crime.”
The Executive Director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Patti Seeger says in a news release, "All too often domestic abusers strangle their victims as they escalate the violence, but strangulation often leaves no visible injury and is not treated as the serious and dangerous crime that it truly is. This legislation will be a powerful tool for intervening in a potentially lethal form of domestic violence and prevent it from intensifying."
Last month, the state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 99 (SB 99) that expands the Wisconsin No Call List to include cell phone numbers. SB 99 also allows a small business to request that a land line or cell phone number be included on the No Call List that is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
Also under SB 99, a telemarketer is prohibited from calling a customer who has verbally informed the telemarketer that the customer does not want to receive telephone solicitations. Penalties for violators would increase from the current forfeiture of $100. SB 99 increases the forfeiture for violators to not less than $1,000 or more than $10,000.
I voted for the bill to give consumers this option although I advised caution. Registering your cell phone is unnecessary and a very bad idea. Cell phone numbers are unpublished. If, for example, you provide your cell phone number to the national do not call list, suddenly, it becomes a published number. The lists of numbers must be purchased by telemarketers so they can comply with the do not call registry. It would be extremely easy for unscrupulous entities and foreign, international entities to get their hands on the numbers. Your best bet is to avoid registering your cell phone.
The state Assembly failed to take up SB 99 before the 2007 legislative session ended. The bill is dead and could be re-introduced in the next session in January 2009.