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Conservatively Speaking

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.

Governor quietly drops cost-savings program, audit planned

Audits

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that last year, Governor Doyle’s administration “quietly dropped” the Accountability, Consolidation and Efficiency, or ACE initiative. The administration promoted ACE, promising a savings to the state of $200 million over four years by determining more effective ways to make state purchases.

My colleague, state Senator Rob Cowles of Green Bay has asked for an audit of ACE. Cowles is correct that during a time of a $650 million dollar revenue shortfall, the state must take every step it can to ensure funding is being spent appropriately and effectively.

Read the Wisconsin State Journal article.


Other states not raising taxes to fix budgets

Taxes

Wisconsin is not alone in its budget woes. The Associated Press reports, “Nearly two dozen states are grappling with deep cuts and tax proposals to close shortfalls totaling more than $34 billion.”

The similarity between Wisconsin and other states ends with the red ink. There is a stark contrast between Wisconsin’s approach to a budget fix and the remedies being applied in other cash-strapped states.

Last week, state Senate Democrats voted for big tax increases to fix the budget shortfall. Compare that short-sighted solution to what is being proposed elsewhere.

The Washington Post reports, “Only half a dozen states have approved, or are considering, tax increases……. Instead of raising taxes, most states with shortfalls are curtailing services.”

Regarding tax increases as a solution, the Associated Press reports, “Despite the dire conditions, only a handful of states are seriously considering general tax increases or even modest hikes on the wealthy to close the gaps. Lawmakers say they fear such actions would only further stress the economy.”

Program and service cuts in other states reportedly will be painful. That is the inevitable price that must be paid following year after year of over-taxation and spending.

Wisconsin would be wise to forget the tactic that has been used too often and has propelled the state into the economic chaos we now confront-pulling out the credit card and pushing ever-growing debt into the future. The result is a never-ending cycle of budget debacles.

Tough as it may be to swallow, other states have the correct blueprint. Difficult choices must be faced head on rather than taxing and spending that will only exacerbate an already out-of-control problem.

Read more from the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Channel 10 panel on taxes

Mary in the media

I will be a guest panelist this week on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10’s “4th Street Forum.”  The subject for discussion:


WISCONSIN TAXES: WHAT'S ENOUGH? WHAT'S FAIR?
What's the Truth about Wisconsin Taxes?
Are they fairly distributed? Excessively high?
Are some people and businesses getting a good deal at the expense of others?

The program will air this Friday night at 10:00 p.m. and will be repeated this Sunday afternoon on Channel 36 at 3 p.m.

New expanded law allows hunters to transfer more licenses to minors


A new Wisconsin law expands the current law that allows licensed hunters to transfer their hunting permits for bear to minors.

Under previous law, hunters could only transfer a Class A bear license to a minor. Under the new law that I voted for, permits can be transferred to minors for deer, bobcat hunting and trapping, otter trapping, fisher trapping, Canada goose hunting, wild turkey hunting, sharp−tailed grouse hunting, elk hunting, and sturgeon spearing.

The minor has to be eligible to use the permit. The minor cannot have been issued a transfer of that type of permit in the past.

The new law will give minors a chance to hunt and harvest rare game and will promote one of Wisconsin’s storied traditions among young people.

The Appleton Post-Crescent reports, “Few people can hunt rare game because a limited number of permits are distributed each year. Compared with 641,000 resident deer licenses issued last year, only 4,405 were issued for bear and 1,030 for bobcat. Eighty-one people between the ages of 12 and 18 received Class A bear licenses in 2006, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Out of 110,000 spring turkey licenses handed out that year, young people accounted for 11 percent, or 11,700. That's what makes transferring a permit a difficult decision.”

Typically, there is a long waiting list for certain wild game permits that can last several years.

Hunters can transfer their permits as soon as applications are available. The Department of Resources (DNR) is working on the application forms and will make them available online. The application forms must be filed with the DNR 15 days prior to the beginning of any particular hunting season.

Minor hunters must be at least 12 years old and must attend and finish a hunter safety course in order to get a transferred permit.

Conceal carry for retired officers

Many solid pieces of legislation failed to survive the 2007-08 legislative session. One of the casualties was a bill I co-sponsored, Assembly Bill 877 (AB 877) that would have allowed retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons.

Retired law enforcement officers and law enforcement departments around the state support this common-sense legislation. These trained men and women have dedicated their professional lives to protect and serve. Why would we deny empowering them to help fight crime in our communities?

Under the bill, law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin could allow retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms. Retired officers would be required to meet certain standards for training and qualification.

I understand that this is a priority for law enforcement around Wisconsin. This legislation is likely to be re-introduced in the next legislative session and will again have my support.

Here is a copy of AB 877.

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