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State Budget Does Not Reflect Wisconsin Values and Priorities

State Rep. Sandy Pasch offers her views on the recently enacted state budget.

Our state budget is a moral document that represents the blueprint for Wisconsin’s shared vision as a state. However, with a simple pen stroke on Sunday, June 26, Governor Scott Walker signed off on a radical reversal of our state’s values and priorities by approving a budget that shifts billions of dollars from public education, healthcare, and local services to fund handouts for special interests and tax breaks for big corporations. 

This budget slashes aid to public schools by nearly $1.6 billion, while dramatically expanding taxpayer support for unaccountable, unproven voucher schools. It also cuts funding to the UW System by $250 million and reduces aid to our technical colleges by roughly 30 percent.

It passes the buck to our local governments through slashing roughly $76 million in shared revenue, while undermining local autonomy and restricting their ability to effectively mitigate the cuts. After years of doing more with less, this will impact our local communities’ ability to provide quality services and programs that we depend on every day.  

It grants Walker’s administration sweeping and unprecedented authority to gouge medical assistance programs – such as BadgerCare, SeniorCare, and Family Care – by almost a half billion dollars. They can make these cuts through changes through decreasing eligibility, increasing premiums, and cutting services – all with little to no public input or legislative oversight. 

It severely restricts women’s and children’s access to preventive health services and jeopardizes vital family planning services – which not only save lives, but also save taxpayer dollars – for 57,000 women and men throughout the state.

Where are Governor Walker and legislative Republicans choosing to send the billions being cut from our public schools, medical assistance programs, and local communities? Largely to big corporations, wealthy donors, and special interests, as their choices this session will hand out over $2 billion in tax breaks and loopholes over the next decade.

This budget also breaks repeated promises made by Governor Walker and legislative Republicans. While they have promised that their budget would not raise property taxes, it does. A non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis projects a general property tax increase for property owners, in addition to a $13.6 million property tax increase on 247,000 homeowners and renters who are already struggling to get by and utilize the Homestead Tax Credit. 

They also promised their budget would not increase spending, hike fees, or raid funds. However, this budget hikes fees by $111 million, increases state spending by $1.1 billion, and raids $411 million in funds. 

During the final floor debate, I, along with many of my other colleagues, offered a series of common-sense amendments that would shift funding from private schools back to public schools, restore vital job training for displaced workers, secure continued access to affordable health care, protect local control, and ensure a more transparent and honest government. I believe at least some of these amendments should have received broad bipartisan support, but Republicans time and time again chose special interests over working families in defeating these well-thought ideas.

Not only is our state budget a moral document, but it is one that involves choices and decisions necessary to guide a path for our state.  Unfortunately, I believe Gov. Walker and the legislative Republicans have taken our state completely off course.  They decided to place corporate tax loopholes and special interest giveaways before adequately funding public education, ensuring access to affordable health care, and providing our local communities with the real tools they need to thrive and prosper. 

The people of Wisconsin need and deserve better.  Even though this budget has now been signed into law, we must – and will – continue the fight to ensure that Wisconsin values are restored and preserved to reflect our priorities for future generations.

State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D – Whitefish Bay) represents Wisconsin’s 22nd Assembly District, which includes Fox Point, River Hills, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, and parts of Glendale and Milwaukee 

CowDung June 30, 2011 at 09:43 PM
I guess you are saying that "We're broke. It's your fault, upper class business owner."... Once again, my comment seems to have disappeared from this thread--and it won't let me repost it because it is a 'duplicate comment'. What's going on around here--posts have been going missing all day!! ki
Lyle Ruble June 30, 2011 at 11:58 PM
This is a well written piece. It does draw a significant difference between Representative Pasch and the Republicans now controlling the state government. A balanced budget is a misnomer, what is balanced is of course the revenues against the expenditures; maybe? What is clear is the expenditures have been shifted from the public welfare to corporate and well healed interests. The Democratic plan is to stop this transfer, nothing more needed, nothing more said.
Jim Wheelock July 01, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Completely and utterly out of touch. Looked at the score board lately?
Ima Hippee July 01, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Peske - You have NO idea what you are writing about. Nice talking points fed to you from a Sandy Pasch licked spoon. No one on the right is blaming middle class America - this class warfare is coming from directly the left. The wealthy power brokers are coming from the left - you need to realize that. I graduated from college with huge loans and paid them back - it is done all the time. If you want to work for it. Nope, Sandy Pasch does NOT have your back! She has voted 100% to take more and more of your income and redistribute elsewhere. Mr. Peterlin has a great question - Sandy, where is your plan? I didn't think so.
Bewildered July 01, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Wow! Talk about "drinking the koolaid" !! Pesky, you drank the whole pitcher!!
Bewildered July 01, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Wow! Talk about "drinking the koolaid" !! Pesky, you drank the whole pitcher!!
Lyle Ruble July 01, 2011 at 03:43 AM
@Ima Hippee...Unfortunately N. Peske knows precisely what she's talking about. These are not Pasch talking points. If you read Pasch's opinion piece more carefully she was addressing expenditure transfers and redirection. I would strongly suggest that you approach the issues with less emotion. Class warfare has been created by directly attacking public employees and public school teachers. Both cohort are strongly middle class. For the last six months I have watched attack after attack against public employees. The situation has been carefully manipulated to pit one group of middle class taxpayers against another group of middle class taxpayers. A good example of scapegoating is when the Nazi's blamed the Jews for all of Germany's problems. Iam Hippee; who are you blaming?
Vicki Bennett July 01, 2011 at 11:37 AM
The Republicans always try to make it look like they're looking out for the tax payer, when in fact they are looking out for themselves and their special interest groups. In the past giving tax breaks to business has NOT proven to create jobs. It has allowed those at the top to line their pockets. If the wealthy just paid their fair share of the taxes, we wouldn't be in the tax nightmare that we're in now. GO SANDY!
Jenny Heyden July 01, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Go Sandy. You say what many cannot, you deal with what many can't face, and you put yourself out in front of those who will need you one day, to defend them, when they realize they're mortal and, dare I say, just as vulnerable as the rest of us. I have always felt grateful for my health, but I realize many things are out of our control. Thanks for looking out for those of us who don't think tax breaks for corporations serve people who just want to be able to drink the water, and not the kool-aid.
CowDung July 01, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Raising taxes on businesses certainly doesn't create jobs. Who do you think really pays those taxes that are imposed on businesses? It isn't those 'at the top'...
CowDung July 01, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Raising taxes on businesses certainly won't create jobs. Who do you think pays for those taxes imposed on businesses? It isn't 'those at the top'...
Vicki Bennett July 01, 2011 at 02:11 PM
My comment was not meant to raise taxes on the businesses, but on the wealthy. From everything that I've read, giving tax breaks to businesses does not often create jobs. As a matter of fact, many businesses have down-sized or sent work off shore. I believe that all of the tax burden should be shared equally and that means the 2% at the top pay their share of the taxes which will take the burden off the middle class. We are just moving money around by taking the funds that support social programs and giving it to business tax breaks. What happens to the people in those social programs? Privatization is not the answer, as those programs are often just a bust--example, what Walker did to the Milwaukee county mental health system. We need a reasonable person who cares about people. Walker could care less about doing anything but promoting his agenda no matter who it hurts. We need some balance to keep him in check.
Kelly O'Brien July 01, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Shame, shame, shame Lyle. Spasch voted with Doyle to raid the Patient Protection Fund to line the WEAC velvet pockets. Now she complains about cuts to BadgerCare, Senior Care, Family Care and all the other scare tactics. Which will it be Spasch? Spasch voted to raid the Transportation Fund to line the Teamsters velvet pockets. In the meantime the Zoo Interchange is falling apart. Spasch voted for $1 Billion in tax hikes in a smasch it in your face 24 hour taxathon, Is it any wonder that businesses, jobs, seniors, and 20-somethings are driving there Priuses to Texas never to return. Then, all we get from you and your cabal is "this is a well written piece". Yes, indeed but it is short, no vacant, on substance. Sandy is a wonderfull women but she is way out of her league. We all deserve better.
Tammy Bockhorst July 01, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Well put, Lyle.
CowDung July 01, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Then perhaps I was mislead by your comment: "In the past giving tax breaks to business has NOT proven to create jobs. It has allowed those at the top to line their pockets. " Yes, many businesses have downsized and moved jobs to cheaper areas. They didn't do that because of tax breaks. They do it because labor costs are making it harder to compete in the global marketplace. The top 2% of the wealthy already pay most of the taxes--why do you think they aren't paying their share? I think it's something like 70% of total taxes paid are paid by the top 10% of wage earners. Reducing government spending is what needs to happen if we truly want to take the burden off the middle class.
The Donny Show July 01, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Sandy, please publish you plan. PLEASE!!!! What are you going to do? Sandy, if this budget does not reflect WI Value and Priorities, please offer a counter-plan. Guarantee she is not going to do it (after all she has no plan but to take IL money to run a recall candidacy) anytime soon.
Kelly O'Brien July 01, 2011 at 03:41 PM
No, actually, what is clear is that Wisconsin was looking into a $3.6 Billion abyss. SPasch voted with Doyle to raid the Patient Protection Fund shifting green backs to WEAC's welfare fund. Now she wants to cloak herself in BadgerCare, SeniorCare, FamilyCare and all the other SCares. Perhaps she, in her brilliant literary style, thinks we will forget that little boondoggle dribbling out of both sides of her mouth.
Kelly O'Brien July 01, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Oh, by the way, remember that little raid on the Transportation Fund. SPasch voted with Doyle on that one too, lining the pockets of the Teamsters. Fortunately for her nobody was injured when the Zoo Interchange began to crumble. Oh, and there's more. Remember that 24 hour $1 Billion taxathon that Doyle vomitted on us? The exhaust from all the corporations accelerating out of the state is still lingering. Finally, where was SPasch when Doyle decided to default on the Badger/Gopher reciprocity deal? Some of us remember these things. While you are right, SPasch can put our a well written piece of propaganda, the voters are looking for substance. We now have a balanced budget and we balanced it without a loss of one government job. The budget sinkhole was created by Doyle and his union puppeteers. SPasch happily jumped on the slow speed gravy train. Now, we need to convince corporations that Wisconsin is a safe place to create jobs. Not government jobs. Jobs that support families. Jobs that build homes. Jobs that increase tax revenue. SPasch is a wonderful human being, with good intentions. That's not enough. Bleeding hearts bleed red ink!
Lyle Ruble July 01, 2011 at 03:49 PM
@CowDung...How do you know that raising taxes won't create jobs? We haven't tired it.
Mark July 01, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Lyle, You appear to be a middle aged person who has been through life and at this point should understand taxes. So when you ask how do we know if higher taxes wont indeed create more jobs I have to ask: If you could buy a TV from the store would you buy the one with higher taxes on it or lower. same TV but one is 500 and the other is 550? If your business was going to open up would you move somehwere with higher taxes or lower taxes. Do you want to pay more taxes for something at the store. Would you buy more of somthing with a lower tax there by over time actually paying more tax because you buy more of it?
Mark July 01, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Lyle, You appear to be a middle aged person who has been through life and at this point should understand taxes. So when you ask how do we know if higher taxes wont indeed create more jobs I have to ask: If you could buy a TV from the store would you buy the one with higher taxes on it or lower. same TV but one is 500 and the other is 550? If your business was going to open up would you move somehwere with higher taxes or lower taxes. Do you want to pay more taxes for something at the store. Would you buy more of somthing with a lower tax there by over time actually paying more tax because you buy more of it?
Lyle Ruble July 01, 2011 at 05:36 PM
@Mark....You raise an interesting conditional scenario. At least for me and my family our buying decisions are not based on price and tax rate. In fact price comes down pretty low on the list. Our family has been on a cash only basis for going on ten years. When we plan a purchase it's based on product, features, function, benefits, longevity, where it was made and finally who are we purchasing from. For argument purposes let's suppose the same article is offered here by a locally owned merchant, but if I drive to Waukesha where the big box strore has it for $50 less; I will spend the extra money to shop locally. It not only supports the local merchant, but I probably know him personally. Let's say that the government imposes an excise tax or value added tax on certain items that exceed a price based on item type. If I can support my local merchant I will probably buy it and pay the extra in tax. Now I know my way of looking at things are unique, but in my past career I had to make decisions to support locally or support globally, it all depends on the situation. I am not in favor of totally free impost tariffs. Just like China and India we don't impose the same rate of import tariffs on them that they do on us. Certain types of consumerism carries social costs. Just like with Walmart, how many of their employees have to get their healthcare insurance from medicaid. We are literally saving in one pocket and paying out the other.
andrea July 01, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Sandy--as you well know from your time in the state legislature, frozen minds cannot be thawed--and even if they could, they won't come out of the freezer. I appreciate your hard work, energy and determination to become a voice in the senate. BTW, voted absentee today--who the H is Gladys!
Vicki Bennett July 01, 2011 at 09:24 PM
I think that you need to check your facts on the top 2% paying 70% of total taxes. The Bush tax cuts that were recently continued by congress have made sure that the wealthiest do NOT pay their fair share of the taxes. Some government spending can be reduced, but not at the expense of the poor, the handicapped, and our children by giving tax breaks to businesses. Further, DO NOT privatize such services. Privatization has proven to be a "red herring."
Beth Gregg July 02, 2011 at 01:18 PM
This is the one line that none of the naysayers have addressed, "They also promised their budget would not increase spending, hike fees, or raid funds. However, this budget hikes fees by $111 million, increases state spending by $1.1 billion, and raids $411 million in funds." People, you are being fed lies by the purveyors of this rhetoric/mindset. Tax cuts to business have not created and will not create jobs enough to offset the damage to the infrastructure. Ima, you really need to get your facts straight before mouthing off--what power brokers from the left specifically are creating this class warfare? I, for one, would like to see some real facts backing up your, um, opinion. As to "no one on the right is blaming the middle class"--you got that right because they are too busy blaming the poor and minorities. It would do us all good to remember that it is a privilege to live here in America where we have more basic rights and freedoms than almost anywhere else on Earth on the eve of July 4th. We are supposed to work for the common good, not fight against each other while our country continues to decline.
Mark July 02, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Beth, where in the heck did you get these stupid numbers. I dont recall the promise your citing.. I do know he promised to balance the stupid thing to save the state after what doyle did and despite the democratic games and law suits and protests etc HE DID It
Kris July 02, 2011 at 04:25 PM
StaynConnected: the budget is balanced, but on the backs of people who are unable to stand upright under it. There were no hard choices made: Walker & co. simply handed off the debt to those who are politically and economically unable to fight back.
Keith Schmitz July 02, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Let's crap can that notion about lower wages. Yes, of course companies are seeking to reduce payrolls but then the question needs to be asked, who does this benefit? The fact that CEOs are making over 500 times more than the lowest paid worker vs 100 times more 30 years ago, tells you where this country is headed and who benefits, and for sure they are not working 500 times harder. Hard to imagine anyone would find that appropriate for any reason and that it is time people protest how inappropriate it is. No that doesn't quite say it. How about, this is pure BS. Anybody who things this in equality is a good idea is the modern day version of a tory and is basically a fool.
Keith Schmitz July 02, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Let's crap can that notion about lower wages. Yes, of course companies are seeking to reduce payrolls but then the question needs to be asked, who does this benefit? The fact that CEOs are making over 500 times more than the lowest paid worker vs 100 times more 30 years ago, tells you where this country is headed and who benefits, and for sure they are not working 500 times harder. Hard to imagine anyone would find that appropriate for any reason and that it is time people protest how inappropriate it is. No that doesn't quite say it. How about, this is pure BS. Anybody who things this in equality is a good idea is the modern day version of a tory and is basically a fool.
Keith Schmitz July 02, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Yup, a million ways to balance the budget, all of which require a little creativity and the guts to tell the uber rich that the sacrifice must be shared. And what is being proposed in no way hurts these people.

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