Sunday September 24, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason


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assembly-bitter-debateBudget proposal loaded with policy items, segregated fund raids and tax increases.

MADISON – Gov. Walker and Legislative Republicans are quickly backtracking from their promises to strip policy and pork projects from the state budget, end the practice of segregated fund raids and oppose tax and fee increases after the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released a series of updated memos. These reports revealed that the 2015-17 Republican budget contains 49 non-fiscal policy items, raids segregated funds, and increases taxes and fees.

49 non-fiscal policy provisions are included in the Republican budget according to an LFB memo dated April 6th. The list includes proposed changes to the taxpayer-subsidized private voucher school program and the removal of citizen oversight at the Department of Natural Resources.

“Governor Walker says one thing on the campaign trail and does another in the Capitol,” said Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “This is Walker’s third budget that includes non-fiscal policy, raids segregated funds, increases taxes and fees, and breaks the promises he made to Wisconsin.”

“Of course, my Democratic colleagues and I will work to remove the many policy provisions that have nothing to do with the state budget. Governor Walker consistently demonstrates a willingness to sidestep the legislative process to advance the wishes of special interest groups,” said Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

“Policy items that strip citizen oversight at the Department of Natural Resources should be taken up by the legislative committees that study these issues and should not be hidden in the state budget,” added Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh). “Committees provide transparency and are able to bring in experts and community members for an open discussion on these proposals.”

“Republicans control the Legislature and the Governor’s office and can pass these provisions as stand-alone bills,” added Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). “Keep the promise to the people of Wisconsin and do the right thing by removing policy items from the budget.”

In addition to the policy report, two LFB memos released on March 16, 2015 revealed Gov. Walker’s proposed segregated fund raids and middle class tax increases. The Republicans proposed 2015-17 biennial budget raids over $302 million in segregated fund dollars and raises taxes and fees by $48 million.

Written by Joint Finance Committee Democrats   

shirley_abrahamsonPhone Calls on Wisconsin’s business lobby effort to pass a constitutional amendment aimed at stripping Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson of her position turn up Massive Voter Confusion.

WISCONSIN - The campaign by Wisconsin’s business lobby to pass a constitutional amendment aimed at stripping Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson of her position is a distortion of the democratic process.

The well-funded campaign by Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce, under the brand of Vote Yes for Democracy, claims in Orwellian fashion that the amendment is about democracy.  In fact, there was no public demand for it, and most voters have no idea why it is on the ballot and what its implications are. As the Center on Media and Democracy has reported, the amendment is a thinly veiled effort to cement right-wing domination of the Wisconsin’s highest court.

Because of our grave concern that voters are being misled and manipulated by powerful special interests, Citizen Action of Wisconsin launched a phone campaign which has talked so far to 48,909 voters about the amendment. In our phone campaign we have found that voters lack the basic facts needed to make an informed decision about the amendment, so much so that many keep callers on the line trying to get more information. This is highly unusual, because the public does not generally crave unsolicited phone calls. Our program also found that even after receiving information, over one-third of voters are still undecided.

One serious problem with Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment process revealed in this campaign is that the ballot does not give voters basic information, such as what is current law and what is the rationale for each side of the question. This differs sharply with states that have the initiative (or direct legislation) process.

“It is shameful right-wing interests are manipulating the democratic process to gain further control the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It is sham democracy when voters don’t know what they are voting on, and are given highly misleading information by wealthy special interests who have no intention of educating the public.”

Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig   
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