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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.

Most states are saying no to tax increases


So far, only a handful of states have decided to raise taxes to address their budgets.

The 2007-09 Wisconsin budget that I voted against that was signed into law increased taxes. So did the budget repair bill that I voted against.

it is unfortunate that Wisconsin has failed to follow the path taken by most other states and reject tax increases during tough budget times.

Stateline has the story.

Wisconsin losing prime population

One of the biggest concerns I have blogged about and discussed extensively as I travel throughout Senate District 28 is Wisconsin’s propensity to lose our high-income level citizens and many of our best and brightest to other states. We can point fingers at the weatherman but the taxman shoulders much of the blame.

During November 2005, the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance issued a very troubling report entitled, "Moving In, Moving on: Migration in Wisconsin."  During the five years prior to the 2000 census, almost 669,000 people either moved to or out of Wisconsin. However, the net in-migration into Wisconsin was a meager 7,282.

Individuals with college or advanced degrees were more likely to leave, while those with less education tended to come. Individuals with household incomes above $75,000 left Wisconsin. Those with incomes of $200,000 or more had the highest rates of leaving.

The huge exodus of wealthy Wisconsinites leaving the state caused a loss of an estimated $4.72 billion in net worth and a loss of $455 million in income over the five years of this study. 

During November 2007, USA TODAY reported that Americans are moving across state lines at the highest rate since the early 1990s. U.S, Census Bureau data shows lots of people are moving, but not to Wisconsin that ranks at number 45 among the states, with 1.9 percent of the state’s population in 2006 having moved here from another state.

Arthur Laffer, president of Laffer Associates and Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial board confirm that high taxing and spending have had a negative impact on Wisconsin’s ability to compete and cause many people to relocate elsewhere. Laffer and Moore wrote in the Wall Street Journal,  “Five of the states near the bottom of our competitiveness ratings -- Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin -- have enacted major tax increases in the last two years. Maryland and Michigan just raised business and income taxes on upper-income earners, while arguing that raising the cost of doing business will attract more businesses. More likely it will induce companies to stay away, and people to move out.”

The latest USA TODAY analysis of Census data shows 35 states, including Wisconsin lost population during 2007 in the age category 25-44. Wisconsin’s population in that age bracket dropped by five percent last year.

William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution tells USA TODAY that older industrial states are facing the loss of the younger, high-fertility workers.

In Massachusetts, that suffered a 9.6 percent drop in its 25-44 population, the research director at MassINC, a non-partisan think tank in Boston, Dana Ansel made an understatement when she told USA TODAY, "Losing people in their prime working years is not positive."

The new USA TODAY analysis fails to offer specific details why states like Wisconsin are losing workers aged 25-44 but my suspicion is that economics plays a vital role. That all goes back to our high level of taxing and spending.

Please read the USA TODAY article and my blog on this issue, “Taxes go up, people move out.”

Taxing the Internet: UPDATE


Read more

New federal law allows Wisconsin to track molesters living on tribal lands

Wisconsin is one of six states that has gained new power to track sex offenders living on tribal lands because of a provision in a new federal law.

The provision is part of the new Adam Walsh Child and Protection Act that was signed into law by President Bush. reports, “The change would mean the states soon must ensure that sex offenders within tribal borders register more frequently with law enforcement authorities and often for longer periods of time. The states must add molesters to existing online sex-offender registries and collect and publish information about their appearance, whereabouts and even the cars they drive. In some cases, they must see that offenders who currently are not behind bars are identified and added to state registries retroactively.”

Read the entire article.

Audit completed on federal funding for Wisconsin


 Wisconsin’s highly-acclaimed nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has released its annual Single Audit report that outlines federal funds awarded to the state. The Single Audit is generally considered critical in ensuring the effective use of taxpayer dollars, and helping maximize the State’s federal funding.

During fiscal year (FY) 2006-07, state agencies administered $9.6 billion in federal funding through more than 1,600 federal programs and grants that included 930 research and development grants awarded to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System.

The amount of federal funding administered by Wisconsin has changed very little since fiscal year 2002-03.

How is the money spent?
According to the LAB:

“The Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS), the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the UW System, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) “administered 95 percent of the federal cash and noncash assistance the State expended in FY 2006-07. DHFS was responsible for the largest share: $3.8 billion, including $2.8 billion in federal funding for the Medicaid Cluster. The Medicaid Cluster includes Medical Assistance, the largest federal program administered by the State of Wisconsin. Additional state funding to support Medical Assistance totaled $1.9 billion in FY 2006-07.

Other federal programs administered by DHFS include the Food Stamp Cluster, the State Children’s Insurance Program, Foster Care—Title IV-E, and Adoption Assistance.

DWD administered $1.5 billion in federal financial assistance in FY 2006-07. DWD administers the Unemployment Insurance program, as well as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Child Care subsidy, and Vocational Rehabilitation programs.

UW System disbursed a total of $1.3 billion in federal funds, including $648.5 million in student financial aid and $512.9 million in research and development grants.

Most of the $729.8 million in federal funding administered by DOT supported the Highway Planning and Construction program, which had FY 2006-07 expenditures of $638.2 million.

DPI provided the majority of its $688.0 million in federal funding to local schools and other entities for education and child nutrition programs. Other state agencies disbursed another $461.2 million in federal funds during FY 2006-07.”

The audit concentrated on 22 programs that accounted for 69.9 percent of Wisconsin’s federal funding during FY 2006-07. Programs were selected for review based on their size and the risk of noncompliance with federal rules. The good news is the LAB determined that state agencies have properly administered federal grant programs and complied with federal requirements.

During FY 2007-08, the state did return $15.5 million to the federal government due to excess balances in an internal service fund administered by the Department of Administration. Excess balances are prohibited under federal grant rules.

Another concern was raised about food stamps issued to prison inmates. The LAB matched data on food stamp benefit recipients with data from the Department of Corrections and reviewed a group of 12 inmates that appeared most likely to have improperly received food stamp benefits. The LAB found that 10 of the 12 inmates did receive food stamps inappropriately received food stamp benefits while in prison. The recommendation from the LAB is that the state recover those benefit payments.

The Single Audit has 27 recommendations to improve the state’s administration of federal funding.

Here is the full audit report. 

Once again, I commend the LAB for another outstanding and thorough review.

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