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.
State Senate Democrats have been pushing to implement a multi-billion dollar government health care plan in Wisconsin.
Thankfully, their efforts have been unsuccessful.
Government health care is failing in Massachusetts where patients are having difficulty finding doctors. Patients fortunate enough to find a physician then experience long waits for appointments. One physician’s next opening for a physical is early May — of 2009.
The New York Times has the story.
A study by the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) says that debt service has vaulted into the state’s list of top ten expenses, right up there with school funding and aid to local governments.
The principal reason the state faces major challenges whenever it has a budget crisis rests on how it spends its money. In addition to debt service, which it legally cannot cut, it devotes 55% of general fund expenses to aiding schools and local governments, and another 12% on health care for low-income individuals (Medicaid). That means that close to 70% of what the state spends is devoted to programs whose costs are difficult to control (Medicaid) or to programs that, if trimmed, would likely result in local property tax increases.
"What is not readily understood," observes WISTAX President Todd A. Berry, "is that the cost of operating state governments accounts for only 17% of general fund expenditures. The public and press often presume that cutting state agency budgets can solve a budget problem, yet the uncomfortable truth is that more than four of every five dollars in the state budget are spent elsewhere."
Read the press release from WISTAX and a Wisconsin State Journal editorial
If you missed it, here is the video of my appearance Sunday with state Representative Fred Kessler on Up Front with Mike Gousha on WISN-TV Channel 12.
We discuss proposed changes for state Supreme Court elections.
Those are daunting questions, considering all levels of government, federal, state, and local spent $4.1 trillion during 2007. Approximately two-thirds of your taxes go to the federal government with the remaining third going to state and local governments.
Using data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, MSNBC.com crunched the numbers to calculate how your taxes are spent.
The largest chunk of tax dollars, 22 percent goes toward income security that includes Social Security, welfare, disability payments, and unemployment insurance. The next largest expenditure, 20 percent goes for health care that includes Medicaid and Medicare. A significant 42 percent of American tax dollars is spent on entitlement programs.
Public safety, including national defense and local police, fire, prison, and court costs make up another 20 percent of taxes.
Then comes education. About 74 percent of taxes spent on education goes toward elementary and secondary schools, with most of the rest paying for colleges, and the remainder for public libraries. Overall, education accounts for 16 percent of your tax dollar.
Since government doesn’t pay taxes, someone has to pay for the cost of government and that, of course is you. When government spends more than it generates in revenue (sound familiar, Wisconsinites?) and resorts to credit card budgeting by borrowing money, there is interest that must be paid. The cost of managing all levels of government takes up another 14 percent of tax dollars, with the largest portion (63 percent) being the interest paid on borrowing. Other government costs include salaries, expenses, and the cost of actually collecting taxes.
That leaves eight percent of taxes that goes to pay for roads, agriculture, airports, air and water quality, the space program, and recreation.
Let’s review how American tax dollars are spent according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis:
INCOME SECURITY: 22 percent
HEALTH CARE: 20 percent
NATIONAL DEFENSE/PUBLIC SAFETY: 20 percent
EDUCATION: 16 percent
COST OF RUNNING GOVERNMENT: 14 percent
MISCELLANEOUS: 8 percent
Finally, who pays what in taxes in America?
A 2007 report by the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. reported:
“In general, households that earn the most income pay the most dollars of taxes. This is no surprise, since income and payroll taxes make up a very large portion of the nation’s tax bill. Overall, the most tax dollars were paid by households in the top income group. They paid an average of $81,933 in taxes—$57,512 to the federal government in Washington in 2004, and $24,421 to state and local governments at home.
Households in the middle income group—which some refer to as the “middle class”—paid an average of $21,194 in taxes, or $13,028 in federal taxes and $8,166 in state and local taxes.
America’s lowest-earning households—those earning less than $23,700 in cash money income in 2004—face the nation’s lowest tax burden. Households in the bottom income group paid an average of $4,325 in taxes in 2004, or $1,684 to the federal government and $2,642 to state and local governments.”
Taxes at all levels of government remain too high, severely impairing income growth, job creation and retention. The best way to get a handle on taxes is to curtail runaway spending.
We will discuss the state Supreme Court race and calls for reforming judicial campaigns.
You can see Up Front with Mike Gousha this Sunday morning on Channel 12 at 9:00 a.m.