Tuesday, March 29, 2011

artical from JEFF FITZGERALD State Rep.

By JEFF FITZGERALD State Rep. | Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011 11:12 pm | 
No matter how you say it, $3.6 billion is an astronomical number. Yet that is the gap that the state of Wisconsin must close in the upcoming two-year budget. As the budget process moves forward and public hearings begin, it's important to realize just how big of a figure that is.
It's also important to remember that we told voters in November that we would close that gap without raising taxes or fees and without mass layoffs. We are also going to do it without raids on segregated funds and through honest budgeting instead of accounting gimmicks and political tricks that have been used in the past.
Dealing with the budget deficit, which we are constitutionally bound to do, will require difficult decisions. We are committed to making those decisions now rather than putting them off for another day. But make no mistake, making Wisconsin fiscally healthy once again will require shared sacrifice.
Let's get back to that $3.6 billion. To close it we could do what Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats did two years ago - raise taxes. To fill the budget hole, we would have to raise the statewide sales tax by more than 50 percent. We are taxed enough in Wisconsin and burdening families even more is unacceptable.
What about raising personal income taxes? They would have to be jacked up by nearly 30 percent across all income brackets. Tax the rich? To close the massive budget gap the state's top income tax bracket would have to be fifteen times larger than it already is. That would be devastating to job creation because it would affect most small business owners.
Not only are tax increases out of the question, so are fee increases. This budget hole is so enormous, a nearly $500 increase in the vehicle registration fee would be needed. Are you a hunter? Can you imagine the cost of a deer license soaring to $3,500? It would have to in order to close the $3.6 billion hole.
We will look at budget cuts in every department of state government. But to give you an idea of what we're up against, if we shutdown every prison in the state for two years, we would only be two-thirds of the way to $3.6 billion. The same goes for every University of Wisconsin system college or facility in the technical college system. Closing them for two years would only get us halfway there.
Obviously these are extreme examples but the point is clear, the mindset has to change in order for us to do what voters told us to- balance our books and put Wisconsin back to work.
We can't just cut our way to fiscal health, however. We also need to shed regulations and make it easier for job creators to expand and grow our way out of the situation we are in. Only then will we be able to create the jobs our state desperately needs. Job creation remains our number one focus.
I look forward to hearing from you as the budget hearings begin and the process moves forward. If you have any questions regarding this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708, or call me direct at (608) 266-2540. You can also e-mail me at Rep.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov.

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