Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Walker’s dream budget busted

November 10, 2009

For those of you looking for updates of the Madison city budget – you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. However, Cognitive Dissidence, who apparently is a more dedicated reporter than me, spent 17 hours at the Milwaukee County budget deliberations. This is the summary of his toil:

  • 3.8% increase in tax levy
  • No vehicle registration fee
  • No parking meters on the lakefront
  • Estabrook Dam will get fixed
  • The pools and community centers are saved

It looks like Scott Walker lost.

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Budget yields…roof gardens!

November 5, 2009

Brenda Konkel highlights the amendments to the city budget.

Not surprising is the amendment added by Michael Schumacher and budget hawk Jed Sanborn to postpone construction of new Central Library until the city can secure funding, including through private donations.

However, the amendment added by Mike Verveer, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Brian Soloman, Satya Rhodes-Conway and Marsha Rummel harkened back to calls made by the Badger Herald Editorial Board in years past:

“In their evaluation, development and deisgn of the new Central Libary, City staff is directed to study and consider the feasibility of inclusind either a rooftop intensive community garden and/or a green roof.”

Roof gardens are the wave of the future. Not only do they provide a sink for the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, but they make ideal driving ranges (a golf ball never hurt anybody). Unfortunately, Mayor Dave is worried about the potential costs.

Budget update

June 26, 2009

The budget finally passed the conference committee on a party-line vote, with the two Republican “Fitzgeralds” voting against.

The budget would be best described as mediocre. The taxes and fees that will be raised to close the budget shortfall are generally progressive in nature:

  • $287 million by creating a 7.75-percent tax bracket for single taxpayers with incomes of $225,000 and more, and married couples with incomes of $300,000 and more.
  • $97 million by making consumers pay a 75-cent monthly fee on phone lines.
  • Reducing the capital gains tax exemption from 60% to 30%

The Republicans opposition to the capital gains provision is puzzling – especially since they so adamantly opposed the alternative proposal to raise taxes on oil companies. What do they propose? Should we cut education more drastically? Should we restore the cuts in the Department of Justice that they derided as “pro-crime”? Where do we cut?

Of course, the simple explanation is that, like their counterparts in D.C., Wisconsin Republicans don’t have an answer. If you don’t believe me try reading Rep. Gary Bies’ rambling opposition to the “tax and spenders.” Who can blame them? They don’t matter – coming up with alternatives would be a waste of their time and political capital. Just oppose. It sounds better. And it works to a certain extent. If they talk about the teachers union and tax hikes enough some people will start to believe that they have an answer to our problems.

The budget also comprised a variety of social issues, namely immigration. The Democrats retreated on giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants but thankfully, they stood strong on giving undocumented kids in-state tuition. Another road safety provision will make Wisconsin the 49th state to require auto insurance for car owners. New Hampshire is the lone holdout. Also, cops will now be allowed to pull drivers over for not wearing seatbelts. I wonder how many cops don’t wear seatbelts themselves?

Budget depends on drunks

June 24, 2009

You can’t have a state full of drunks and simply hope that they’ll only affect drunk driving laws. They’ll probably write the budget as well.

Just look at the conference committee that’s going to try to hammer out the differences between the Senate and the Assembly’s versions of the budget. The lead Democrat on the committee is Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, a proud OWI convict.

Additionally, success for the Democrats’ is likely hinging on the vote of independent Rep. Jeff Wood. Wood was a Republican until he decided to desert the party because it had abandoned the principles of limited government and low taxes. So now he caucuses with the Democrats…strange.

Well, one day you start voting with the Democrats…the next day..

State Rep. Jeff Wood (I-Bloomer) had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 – nearly twice the legal limit – when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of marijuana, according to a police report released Monday.

Wood said he ran into college friends at a biofuels event Thursday and went to a bar. He said he accepted marijuana and a pipe someone offered him and got in his car.

Now it looks like Woods may not be a reliable vote for the Dems on the budget. He’s been complaining about earmarks and a bunch of other vague illusions to things he doesn’t like. With one Democratic representative tending to a sick wife, the Democrats may be wishing they had an even bigger party guy (pun absolutely intended) to depend on for passage.

Senate approves mediocre budget

June 18, 2009

Raising the capital gains tax isn’t the end of the world. But it’s unfortunate that such a solution was the result of political cowardice in the face of big oil companies, rather than a rational assessment of state priorities.

To avoid any added cost at the gasoline pump, the Senate plan would raise the capital gains tax on investors and property sellers, with the exception of those selling farm property, a move they said would protect working-class and middle-class families.

Really? Or will it also an enormous loophole for large agro-business firms? It’s amazing how attaching the word “farm” to any policy immediately qualifies it to be a “working class” policy. The estate tax would demonstrate the point even more poignantly, as it has never helped any working class American. At least those working class Americans who aren’t also millionaires.

In total, the two-year tax increase would amount to $486 million and comes as Doyle and Democratic lawmakers also propose to increase the income tax rate by one percentage point on couples making more than $300,000 a year.

Although it’s embarassing that the Democrats surrendered to oil lobby pressure, it’s good that their alternative method of raising money was progressive in nature, targetting mainly high income residents.

Looking through the budget (thank God they finally make a document I can search for words in), it is clear that changes to state tax law were made to target job creation, with new benefits for companies or persons who “perform services” in economically distressed areas. Additionally, per-employee 10% tax credits are given to businesses for each employee who makes at least $20,000 and less than $100,000.