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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.

Sticking it to smokers does more harm than good

With the cigarette tax increase approved in the last state budget signed into law by Governor Doyle (that I opposed),
Wisconsin's cigarette tax stands at $1.77  per pack of twenty and ranks 12th highest nationally. (Source: The Tax Foundation, Washington D.C.)

Non-smokers may believe they are unharmed by this hefty tax increase. The nonprofit, nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU) thinks differently. A report by the NTU says cigarette tax increases hurt everybody:
  • States with low cigarette taxes tend to have lower overall tax burdens. The per capita state and local tax burden in high-tobacco tax states is 8 percent above the national average, while the general tax bill for residents of low-tobacco tax states is 15 percent below the national average.
  • Tobacco tax hikes rarely result in other cuts and are often paired with other tax increases or cuts worth less than the tobacco tax boost. "Most states that increase cigarette taxes don't refund the revenue elsewhere -- they spend it," the study notes.
  • Tobacco tax increases don't prevent other hikes. Taxpayers face a seven out of 10 chance of seeing another net annual tax hike within two years of a tobacco tax hike.
  • Cigarette tax hikes may encourage other increases because the extra revenue often is tied to specific spending schemes (such as health care or education) and tobacco use rates are falling -- along with potential tax collections. State governments will need to look elsewhere to fill the gap, and non- smokers could be on the hook.
  • Tobacco taxes don't spur economic growth. States that adopted a tobacco tax hike in fiscal year 2003 saw an average growth rate in gross domestic product from 2005 to 2006 that was 0.6 percent lower than states that did not adopt a tax increase.

Read more

Business writer says Wal-Mart equipped to run health care

One of my very first blogs during February 2007 was titled, “Wal-Mart to the rescue.”  I wrote, in part:

“The best solution to provide top-notch health care at affordable prices is not going to come out of city halls, statehouses, or Washington D.C. Any talk of fixing health care in America should have Wal-Mart and other private sector executives at the discussion table.”

I explain why in my blog.

Jim Jubak agrees. Jubak is senior markets editor for MSN Money. Previously, he served as senior financial editor at Worth magazine and as editor of Venture magazine. Jubak was a Bagehot Business Journalism Fellow at Columbia University and has written two books: "The Worth Guide to Electronic Investing" and "In the Image of the Brain: Breaking the Barrier Between the Human Mind and Intelligent Machines.”

In his latest column, he says Wal-Mart should run the health care system:

It's a company that understands how low prices can build market share and thus increase profits. Furthermore, it's a company with a culture of cutting costs that has shown no compunction in pushing suppliers to the wall over price. The Wal-Mart motto ought to be, ‘Make it cheaper, or we'll find someone who can.’ I'd love to see that attitude brought to bear in health care.”

You can read Jubak’s entire column here.

Wisconsin still #1 in cheese if you please

At one time, California threatened to surpass America’s Dairyland as the largest cheese producer in the country.

During the past 10 years, California kept creeping up, decreasing the margin of cheese production between the West Coast and Wisconsin.

It appears California production has leveled off while Wisconsin enjoys continued growth. Grim predictions about Wisconsin losing its title as the cheese king are not as serious as they once were.

Read more in the Wisconsin State Journal.

State lawmakers across the country are blogging

Mary in the media

I’m mentioned in a column about legislators around the country who blog.

S is an independent element of the Pew Research Center based in Washington, DC. that provides news about state legislatures throughout the United States.

The state Senate killed the Coercive Abortion Bill

During the past legislative session, I co-authored the Coercive Abortion Bill that would have prevented women from being forced into having an abortion.

The bill passed by a healthy margin in the state Assembly. However, the state Senate refused to take up the bill or even schedule a public hearing.

Sue Armacost of Wisconsin Right to Life has more on the state Senate’s inaction on the Coercive Abortion Bill.

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