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.
Remember “Healthy Wisconsin,” the Senate Democrats’ incredibly expensive government health care plan proposed in the state budget? The plan became the target of national ridicule.
In an editorial in July titled, “Cheese Headcases,” the Wall Street Journal wrote:
“Wow, is "free" health care expensive. The plan would cost an estimated $15.2 billion, or $3 billion more than the state currently collects in all income, sales and corporate income taxes. It represents an average of $510 a month in higher taxes for every Wisconsin worker.
Employees and businesses would pay for the plan by sharing the cost of a new 14.5% employment tax on wages. Wisconsin businesses would have to compete with out-of-state businesses and foreign rivals while shouldering a 29.8% combined federal-state payroll tax, nearly double the 15.3% payroll tax paid by non-Wisconsin firms for Social Security and Medicare combined.
This employment tax is on top of the $1 billion grab bag of other levies that Democratic Governor Jim Doyle proposed and the tax-happy Senate has also approved, including a $1.25 a pack increase in the cigarette tax, a 10% hike in the corporate tax, and new fees on cars, trucks, hospitals, real estate transactions, oil companies and dry cleaners. In all, the tax burden in the Badger State could rise to 20% of family income, which is slightly more than the average federal tax burden.
As if that's not enough, the health plan includes a tax escalator clause allowing an additional 1.5 percentage point payroll tax to finance higher outlays in the future. This could bring the payroll tax to 16%.”
The plan did not make its way into the final state budget. But Senate Democrats aren’t giving up on their plan to mandate government health care. Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker told the Wausau Daily Herald that their government health care plan will be re-introduced early next year.
According to the Wausau Daily Herald, “The plan would group employer-sponsored health insurance into one pool, thereby spreading risk among a larger population and lowering costs for employers and workers alike. Those who are self-employed would be able to buy in as well. The plan would be funded through a $15 billion payroll tax.”
That’s not all.
Senator Decker also told the newspaper that Senate Democrats will introduce a measure exempting the first $60,000 of a home's value from local school taxes.
The Daily Herald reports, “That would ease the burden on low- and middle-income folks but bring less money to school districts. To make up for the loss, tax rates on home values above $60,000 would be raised -- a rate that also would apply to commercial and industrial properties. For example, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay no taxes on the first $60,000 of the home's value, but a higher rate on the remaining $90,000 of value.”
That could result in a huge tax increase for Wisconsin homeowners who already pay some of the highest, if not the highest property taxes in the nation.
The Senate Democrats see government spending, tax increases, and government mandates as the solution to every problem. It appears their goal is to see the day that Wisconsin ranks number 1 in all forms of taxes. We must do everything possible to make sure that does not happen.
An amendment to Senate Bill 86 provides that if an Audit Bureau employee investigates a report, the employee may consult with a state agency. The amendment also provides that instead of requiring a bureau employee to investigate a report, the bureau may refer a report to a state agency for investigation. In the case of the Audit Bureau referring a report to a state agency for investigation, the agency must conduct the investigation and deliver the results of the process to the Audit Bureau in a timely manner.
I am a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 86 that would allow citizens to alert the state to improprieties in state government and help the state operate more efficiently.
Wisconsin ranks as the fifth largest Christmas tree producer in the country, selling 1.8 million trees every year. We also are the third largest state nationally for acreage of Christmas trees grown.
Finding a Christmas tree farm to purchase a fresh tree is easy. There are 1,387 Christmas tree farms in the state selling any number of varieties of trees.
University of Wisconsin-Extension Racine County horticulture educator Patti Nagai says each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people. For very tree chopped down, two or three more are planted. The trees are recyclable and when chipped or shredded make great mulch. So Christmas trees are good for the environment.
For more information, check out the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Growers Association.
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. That means far fewer in-state bank deposits, less stock in Wisconsin firms, less investment capital for in-state ventures, and less money given to local charities.
We are losing our best and brightest at a very young age, and we're experiencing retiree flight.
Last month, the 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. Now the Wall Street Journal reports, “Americans are uprooting themselves and moving to places where there is economic vitality, opportunity, and a high quality of life. They are going, in short, to where the action is.”
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 write 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.”
Laffer and Moore say the record movement of citizens across America has little to do with the weather. They say the states with the most dynamic and desirable economies are generally the states with the lowest tax, spending and regulatory burdens. These states win the battle for the prized commodity of human capital. The big losers are high taxing and spending states in the Midwest and Northeast.
The American Legislative Exchange Council has just released a study Laffer and Moore conducted that presents a 2007 Economic Competitiveness Rating of the 50 states. During the past decade, Laffer and Moore discovered that, “the 10 states with the highest taxes and spending, and the most intrusive regulations, have half the population and job growth, and one-third slower growth in incomes, than the 10 most economically free states. In 2006 alone 1,500 people each day moved to the states with the highest economic competitiveness from the states with the lowest competitiveness.”
Wisconsin ranks at number 30 on the Economic Competitiveness rating. Hurting Wisconsin is its ranking at number 45 for property tax burden, the fifth worst in the country, a ranking of 30 for the top marginal personal income tax rate, and a ranking of 32 for the top marginal corporate income tax rate.
Laffer and Moore contend that policy decisions made by state legislators matter. They write, “State officials can influence these factors—the economic, fiscal, and social policy legislation that contribute to, or in all too many cases against, the livability of a state. If you don’t believe that economic policies matter, then why is it that thousands upon thousands of people in East Germany risked their lives and fortunes every year to get through the Berlin Wall to move to West Germany? Why is it that Mexicans line up at the U.S. border to get into this nation to live and work here by whatever means they can, but not too many Americans sneak over the border to get into Mexico?”
The prescription is clear. The remedy to stop people from voting with their feet in Wisconsin is to stop the hemorrhaging of taxing and spending.
The state Senate today approved a constitutional amendment that I co-sponsored to eliminate the Wisconsin governor's use of the Frankenstein veto.
The vote by the Senate was unanimous, 33-0.
The constitutional amendment must go back to the Assembly so the Assembly can addres the date change for the statewide referendum on the veto. Originally, the amendment called for an election date of April 2007. The amendment approved by the Senate calls for a statewide referendum to take place April 1, 2008.
The Assembly is expected to concur with the Senate's action.
The amendment would prohibit future governors, regardless of party affiliation, from creating new words or sentences in their budget vetoes in order to appropriate spending that has not been approved by the state Legislature.