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.
Unelected boards with vast taxing authority in
I have argued for that change for some time. During February 2006, I wrote a column about this issue:
I am proposing legislation requiring that all appointed boards in
If boards are going to increase taxes, they must be accountable to the people paying taxes. Right now, taxpayers do not have recourse. It is fundamentally unfair and a violation of one of the basic concepts of good, open, clean government. If taxes are going to be increased, the boards should have to stand up and defend the increase and then vote to increase taxes. Finally, they need to face the people that pay the taxes in an election. The concept is called taxation with representation, and one that we should always adhere.”
In another column a year later, I provided the following numbers:
“It appears from all the data, the (tax) increases being hoisted upon taxpayers are substantial. Consider the total tax levies for the state's 16 technical colleges. According to he non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers
Former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Mike Nichols, now with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has written an outstanding, revealing investigative piece on one of those unelected boards, the board at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). His compelling article offers more evidence that the current system of unelected, unaccountable boards epitomizes fiscal irresponsibility.
Nichols’ analysis focused on the MATC Board meeting of September 18, 2008. With the nation’s economy crumbling, MATC Board members in just one minute, without discussion or debate, approved and seconded a motion to extend lucrative MATC contracts that taxpayers would have to fund. The entire meeting lasted three minutes and 34 seconds.
MATC’s generosity thanks to taxpayers is well-documented by Nichols who calls their salaries, wages and fringe benefits, “eye-poppingly generous.” Nichols writes:
“State auditors report that both salaries and fringe benefits at MATC—which rose 85% at the school between 2001 and 2009—have traditionally been far higher than at other technical schools.”
Nichols outlines the school’s selection process for choosing board members, calling it “unusual” and “complicated.” Nichols also delves into the case of Greg Grambow, a local businessman who, despite being interested in being on the MATC Board, was essentially advised to simply forget the idea.
The MATC Board’s cavalier attitude and total disregard for taxpayers signal a clear need to make unelected boards elected bodies.
You can read Nichols’ article here.