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Conservatively Speaking

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.

State Budget Watch, 2009-11

State budget


Two weeks ago, the state Legislature approved and Governor Doyle signed into law a massive budget repair/stimulus bill. Governor Doyle also unveiled his 2009-11 state budget that is loaded with new taxes and spending.

As we dig deeper into both the budget repair bill and the governor’s proposed budget, we are discovering more and more details that are astounding in the damaging effects they will have on the state economy and taxpayers.

Over the next several months, please watch my blog for continuing updates on important details about state budget deliberations.

State Budget Watch: Business liabilities

State budget


BizTimes.com is reporting that a provision in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget could be devastating to Wisconsin businesses by making a significant change in civil court cases. BizTimes.com reports:

“Current state law mandates that a defendant be found at least 51 percent at fault to be found liable. However, Doyle’s budget proposes that a defendant, whether a corporation or individual resident, could be liable if they were found at least 1 percent liable.”

The impact could be dramatic, resulting in booming liability insurance costs. The change would add yet another barrier to doing business in Wisconsin that already has one of the worst business climates in the country, not to mention higher prices and fewer jobs.

Read the BizTimes.com article.

State Budget Watch: Is the governor reneging on GPS?

Legislation, State budget


Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget calls for the early release of 3000 convicted felons. His proposal also would give the Department of Corrections the authority to ease up on global position system (GPS) monitoring of sex offenders. 

This is not the first time Governor Doyle has played games with the critical GPS issue.

An appeal was made to Governor Doyle during April 2006 to approve GPS legislation that I co-sponsored. One month later, I stood next to the governor at the Glendale Police Department as he signed the GPS bill into law.

However, it did not take long for the governor to, as the La Crosse Tribune reported, backtrack on GPS in his 2007-09 state budget proposal. Thankfully, the Legislature worked out a compromise to keep GPS intact. Once again, it is budget time, and once again, the governor wants to water down a policy so many worked so hard on for a very long time.

If Wisconsin can use GPS to track golden eagles, the state certainly can and should prioritize using GPS to monitor the worst sex offenders, just as the public demanded, the Legislature approved, and the governor signed into law.

State Budget Watch: Your auto insurance

State budget


Governor Doyle wants to increase your auto insurance rates.

The Wisconsin Insurance Alliance (WIA) says that the governor’s budget includes an astounding 300 percent increase in mandatory auto insurance limits. Current minimums are $25,000 for personal injury, $50,000 for occurrence, and $10,000 for property. The governor wants minimums set at $100,000 for personal injury, $300,000 for occurrence, and $25,000 for property.

The WIA says the new limits would mean some motorists could experience cost increases ranging from 33-45 percent with the largest dollar increases affecting Milwaukee area motorists.

The WIA worries the increased rates will result in the dangerous scenario of more uninsured motorists on Wisconsin roads.

I agree with the WIA that the issue of auto insurance rates is not an appropriate matter to be dumped into the state budget and should be debated as a separate policy item.

Read this release from the WIA.  

It’s state basketball tournament time!

Good news from Senate District 28


The WIAA boy’s basketball regionals of the state tournament begin tonight. These high school teams from schools in Senate District 28 are all playing tonight and I wish them all good luck!

New Berlin Eisenhower

New Berlin West

Greendale

Greendale Martin Luther

Greenfield

Franklin

Muskego

Waterford

Whitnall

East Troy

Mukwonago

Read more

Governor Doyle being asked to return "tainted" donations


Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) is urging Wisconsin residents to contact Governor Doyle to request he return thousands of dollars in campaign donations he has received from a late-term abortionist and his wife.  WRTL calls the donations, “tainted money.”

Read more in this WRTL blog.

State Budget Watch: The spending increases in the governor’s budget

State budget


The highly regarded Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) has examined spending in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. WISTAX reports:

“The proposed 2009-11 state budget holds general fund spending increases to under 1% but hikes by 10.7% expenditures from all revenue sources: from $56.7 billion in 2007-09 to $62.7 billion in 2009-11.”

Why the difference in the spending percentages? Because the governor, as WISTAX points out, is shifting payment for large sate programs from state taxes to federal stimulus dollars.

There is a huge risk in making that shift. Read about it in the WISTAX release.

The problems with a mass transit explosion

State budget


Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget includes a provision that would allow southeastern Wisconsin, Dane County and the Fox Valley to develop regional transit authorities (RTA’s). The RTA’s would administer bus systems and commuter rail lines and be funded via local sales.

Last month at a meeting in Milwaukee, the governor informed business leaders that federal stimulus money might be used to construct a high-speed passenger rail system linking Chicago to Minneapolis with stops at Milwaukee, Madison and possibly Green Bay.

Who knows? There might even be talk in the not too distant future about light rail.

I would caution that before the state gets into a mass transit frenzy, a review of a column written for Caranddriver.com by Patrick Bedard during October 2008 is in order. Bedard correctly pinpoints what he calls the “intractable” problems with mass transit.

The most problematic aspect of mass transit is the cost and its funding source. Transit systems carry an expense that is far and above what participating riders are ready and willing to pay. Bedard writes, “
Think of it this way. Every time a Los Angelino gets on the Metro Rail, he lays out a buck and a quarter, more or less, depending on his destination, and the taxpayers kick in about three and a half bucks. Next time you ding your credit card for gas at $4 per gallon, imagine getting back a check from the government for almost $3 a gallon.” He cites a Cato Institute study that finds three of every four dollars spent on transit comes from taxpayers.

Other mass transit problems: users fail to value the service to pay the full tab, the lure of federal funds generally results in construction of costly projects, and systems rarely stop at desired destinations.

Even if more riders materialize during, for example, a huge spike in gas prices, remember that mass transit has operating costs, too.

Here is Bedard’s column.

State Budget Watch: Taxing your elderly parent

State budget


This may be the most egregious of all the tax increases included in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. First, some background.

Wisconsin developed a provider assessment on nursing home beds during 1991-1992. Until July 2003, the nursing home bed tax was $32 per month per occupied nursing home bed.

In his proposed 2003-05 state budget, the governor wanted to increase the bed tax to $116 per month. The Legislature reduced the governor’s request to the current $75 per month tax.

Governor Doyle proposed an increase in the nursing home bed tax in the 2005-07 state budget from $75 to $125 per month. Again, the governor was unsuccessful.

The governor’s proposed 2007-09 state budget included an increase in the nursing home bed tax from $75 to $127 per cent, a 69 percent increase. Republicans at the time controlled the state Assembly. They intervened and managed to block the increase.

Governor Doyle is proposing it again. His proposed 2009-11 state budget increases the nursing home bed tax from $75 per bed per month to $150 during the first year of the biennium and $170 during the second year. The move would increase the cost of health care, making it more difficult for employers to provide and their workers to pay for coverage.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services reports that at the end of 2005, there were 401 nursing homes licensed to provide service in Wisconsin with a total of 39,146 licensed beds. Patients and their loved ones would be impacted by the huge nursing home bed tax increases the governor is seeking.

I repeat what I stated during the 2007-09 budget deliberations: Proposing a tax increase on nursing home beds is about as low as it gets.

Important DNR hearings coming up

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received two inquiries from hunters wanting to know whether railguns were permitted in Wisconsin. A railgun is defined as a weapon consisting mainly of conducting metal rails that uses electromagnetic force to accelerate a projectile to a much greater speed than that achieved by conventional chemical propellant weapons. Last month, the U.S. Navy established a brand new world record for the most powerful electromagnetic railgun during a test shot in Virginia.

The two calls the DNR got about railguns were enough to put a question before next month’s DNR conservation hearings to be conducted in all 72 counties that would clarify the definition of legal firearm types for hunting.

DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark told the Associated Press the railgun can send projectiles seven times the speed of sound, prompting questions about the safety and fairness of using railguns.

The first of dozens of questions to be reviewed at the DNR hearings on April 13, 2009, relates to keeping young hunters safe from sexual predators. It reads:

“Allow the department to conduct criminal history background checks on individuals that want to serve as department sponsored volunteer angler education instructor or a mentor as part of a department sponsored or approved learn-to-hunt program. These instructors often and primarily serve as instructors for youth. This proposal would also remove the condition that a mentor for fishing programs may not serve as a mentor for more than 3 anglers and clarify that the applicant, instructors and mentors need to possess a valid fishing license. This will also reduce the 30 day advanced notice for applications for fishing programs to 15 days.”

Another issue to be discussed will be the proposed creation of a Youth Conservation Congress to recruit younger hunters and fishers.

All of the DNR hearings scheduled on April 13, 2009 begin at 7:00 p.m. Here are hearing locations in Senate District 28 that I represent:

Milwaukee County: Nathan Hale High School, Auditorium, 11601 West Lincoln Avenue, West Allis

Racine County:  Union Grove High School, Auditorium (Use Hwy. 45 School Entrance), 3433 S. Colony Ave., Union Grove

Walworth County:  Delavan/Darien High School, Auditorium, 150 Cummings, Delavan

Waukesha County:  Waukesha Co. Tech. College (WCTC), Anderson Education Center, 800 Main St., Pewaukee

Here is the notice about the hearings from the DNR and an article from the Associated Press.

Flags in Wisconsin lowered to half-staff today


Read details from the Wisconsin National Guard. 

Read more about Daniel Thompson here.

State Budget Watch: Governor asks students to sign a pledge…......did the governor keep his?

State budget


Last month, I predicted that one of Governor Doyle’s programs, the Wisconsin Covenant would lead to a big tax increase in the next state budget. Under the Wisconsin Covenant, eighth-graders sign a pledge to meet certain goals in order to receive a financial aid package to a UW-System school. I blogged:

“The Wisconsin Covenant was one of the many reasons I voted against the last state budget. It is yet another ornament on a Christmas tree filled with goodies the state simply can’t afford. The state creates another massive program based on a promise, and then turns once again to the taxpayers to hand over the funding. That the Wisconsin Covenant has turned into one more tax increase shouldn’t come as any surprise.”

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that funding for Wisconsin Covenant has, indeed, been promised, but is not forthcoming:

In introducing his budget last week, Gov. Jim Doyle said he had "identified" $25 million for a state program aimed at ensuring a college education for students who stay straight and study hard.
But what the Democratic governor’s budget proposal doesn’t do is either spend that money or set it aside for the Wisconsin Covenant program. Instead, the money in the phantom appropriation for the college guarantee program would be returned, unspent, to the state’s main account at the end of the two-year budget in June 2011.”

Governor Doyle’s Wisconsin Covenant, at this point, seems to be an empty promise.

Read more in the Wisconsin State Journal.

State Budget Watch: The end of the recession will not be the end

State budget

“Congress does not have the magic wand to help the states.”

That was the title of a blog I wrote during January 2009 and its message bears repeating.

Despite Washington’s huge gift-wrapped stimulus packages to the states, the goodies won’t be nearly good enough. About half of any stimulus money sent to a state, Wisconsin for example, cannot be used to fix a large budget hole. Some projections show the cumulative deficit of all 50 states ranges between $312 and $350 billion. The stimulus package approved by Congress would still leave the states with total deficits between $162 and $200 billion to fill on their own.

Michael Hill of the Associated Press reports  on the stark reality that once the stimulus money arrives and is all spent, and once the national recession ends, many states will still suffer huge deficits. I repeat, there is not a magic wand.

Hill breaks down this mess:

“Spending increases were easier to cover in flush times earlier this decade, when tax collections jumped 40 percent over five years. Then the bubble burst. Inflated housing wealth collapsed, consumers hunkered down, businesses slashed jobs and tax collections plunged.”

Hill quotes Mark Vitner, senior economist and managing director at Wachovia who says state governments have few options:

“They're going to have to cut their budgets significantly."

Another alternative, one embraced by Governor Doyle that I reject, is increasing taxes and fees. Grabbing more money from taxpayers experiencing salary freezes or cuts, layoffs, or termination is not only difficult, it is wrong.

When  jobs are lostincoming tax revenue is reduced. Consumers filled with anxiety make fewer purchases, especially big ticket items, affecting retail sales. Recovery could take awhile, and even when the economy brightens, experts agree, state governments always lag behind in getting their fiscal houses in order. When the recession is over, hard times will persist.

You can read Michael Hill’s article that was printed in the Janesville Gazette.

State Budget Watch: Joint Finance Committee hearings

News you can use, State budget


The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has announced its
public hearing schedule for the 2009-11 state budget bill. All hearings are scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following days at the following locations:
    • Monday, March 23: Sparta. American Legion Hall, 1116 Angelo Road.
    • Wednesday, March 25: West Allis. State Fair Park, Banquet Room 2, 640 S. 84th St.
    • Friday, March 27: Eau Claire. UW-Eau Claire Haas Fine Arts Center, 121 Water St.
    • Monday, March 30. Racine. Case High School Theater, 7345 Washington Ave.
    • Wednesday, April 1. Appleton. Lawrence University Stansbury Theater, 420 College Ave.
    • Friday, April 3. Cambridge. Amundson Community Center, 200 Spring St. 

 

Read more

Business writer indicts public sector health care management


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist John Torinus made a strong case in his weekly piece in Sunday’s Business section that the public sector is unable to make responsible decisions about purchasing and managing health care.

After laying out the supporting data, Torinus puts it bluntly:

“T
he public sector does a poor job of managing health and health costs. Most of these plans have low deductibles and co-insurance, meaning that there is no self-discipline on the part of recipients. They just buy whatever they think they need from whomever they pick, regardless of price.”

Does the private sector do a better job? Torinus says yes, because health care decisions driven by consumer choice means the recipients take a greater involvement in their investment. Wiser, more responsible choices are made.

You can read Torinus’ column that urges a look to the private sector for guidance on health care management, here.  

“The tsunami of gun control legislation”


A bill before Congress, House Resolution 45 (H.R. 45) would establish a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and would keep records of sales. 

ESPNoutdoors.com says, “To many gun owners, it's the tsunami of gun control legislation, the mother of all efforts to restrict private gun ownership and the guarantees of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Under the bill, a license would be required to own any type of handgun or semi-automatic firearm. Purchases must be made through a licensed dealer. Federal records of sales would be kept.

Dan Durbin interviewed me about H.R. 45 for the Waukesha Freeman. You can read the article here. 

ESPNoutdoors.com has more details.

State Budget Watch: State revenue cuts

State budget


There is a word that cannot be used to describe Governor Doyle’s cuts in shared revenue to local municipalities: fair.

Wispolitics.com reports that under the governor’s proposed 2009-11 state budget, some counties get hit much harder than others. For example:

“Milwaukee County would see its shared revenue cut 0.40 percent, from $56.3 million to $56.1 million. Dane County's shared revenue would be cut from about $2.5 million to a little more than $2.3 million, a 6.75 percent reduction.”

Compare that to the cuts in other areas:

“Eight counties -- Waukesha, Vilas, Ozaukee, Oneida, Door, Burnett and Adams -- would receive 15 percent cuts under Doyle's plan.”

Could there be a political reason why Milwaukee and Dane counties get much smaller reductions in shared revenue than Waukesha County?

Read more from Wispolitics

The girls are in action Friday night

Good news from Senate District 28


The following girl’s high school basketball teams at schools in Senate District 28 play Friday night, March 6, 2009 in sectional semi-final games of the state tournament with the sectional finals set for Saturday night, March 7, 2009:

Franklin

Muskego

Mukwonago


The winners of the sectionals advance to the state tournament in Madison next week. Good luck, girls!

A Wisconsin municipality embraces HSA's


Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) are considered a viable health care option, far preferable in my view to the multi-billion dollar government health care plan pushed by state Senate Democrats.  The Wall Street Journal finds that even low-income individuals find HSA’s attractive.

HSA’s have failed to gained acceptance from public employee unions and their employers, as reported by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Patrick McIlheran. However, McIlheran found a large union in Wisconsin that supports and recommends the HSA concept.

Read McIlheran’s column.

State Budget Watch: Fees for gun background checks

State budget


The tax and fee increases in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget just keep coming. The governor wants to increase the fee for handgun sale background checks from $8 to $30. In essence, Governor Doyle would tax law-abiding gun owners making a legal purchase to help him fix his budget.

Here are more details from WTMJ-TV.

State Budget Watch: Doyle sabotaging Real ID

State budget


Who can forget the morning of September 11, 2001. Terrorists hijacked commercial passenger jet airliners and crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.


File:National Park Service 9-11 Statue of Liberty and WTC fire.jpg


During the summer of 2006, I had a moving and powerful experience at a tour of the World Trade Center site where 2,749 innocent people were slaughtered and murdered by cowardly terrorists. I will always remember the words of retired New York City Fire Department Lieutenant Paul McFadden who led the tour:

“This was an act of war. It was not a tsunami. It was not an earthquake. It was nothing in nature. It was not an act of God; it was an act of war. And, if you think that it is over, you’re naïve, because they are out there, and they are still plotting against us.”

The murders of 9/11 led Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner to author the Real ID bill. Sensenbrenner wrote the following in an editorial published in the USA TODAY on May 9, 2005: 

“On Sept. 11, 2001, 18 of the 19 hijackers deliberately used valid driver's licenses and state IDs — as opposed to their passports — as their document of choice to board the airplanes. Why? Because state IDs allowed the hijackers to avoid suspicion. A driver's license allows freedom of movement and conveys credibility.”

In describing the Real ID legislation, Congressman Sensenbrenner wrote:

“Real ID would require all states to confirm the identities of applicants, confirm that visas are valid for foreign visitors, keep accurate records, and make driver's licenses and ID cards extremely difficult to counterfeit. This legislation would prevent the next Mohammed Atta from using his six-month visa to obtain a six-year driver's license by requiring that a foreign visitor's license term ends when the visa expires. Furthermore, once these reforms are in place with more complete state records, license renewals should be faster and lines shorter.”

During November 2008, Congressman Sensenbrenner told CNS News that if Real ID had been in place before 9/11/01, terrorists would have been unable to board the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

States need to comply with Real ID that was approved by Congress and signed into law so that their residents can board airplanes and gain entry to federal courthouses. The state of Wisconsin for more than a year has been collecting $10 per driver’s license fee in order to comply with Real ID. However, Governor Doyle’s budget proposal refrains from putting any funding toward compliance. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports over $12.5 million has been collected from motorists that was supposed to go toward compliance with the federal law.

I agree with Congressman Sensenbrenner.  He says, “"If he keeps the fee that was collected for Real ID and doesn't use it for that purpose, then he's stealing money from people who got licenses or renewed licenses since the fee went up."

Real ID is necessary for homeland security. The money state residents have already paid for Real ID should be used by Governor Doyle exclusively for that program.


A better use of our stimulus $$$: Fix our water problems

State budget


The budget repair bill/stimulus package that was rammed through the state Legislature and quickly signed into law was ideally supposed to create jobs. Instead, state lawmakers opted to take the gigantic pot from Washington and use it to account for existing spending by offsetting the current budget crisis.

It is hard to imagine the package approved will actually “stimulate” the state economy and bring new jobs when the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the majority of Wisconsin’s “stimulus” share, about $2 billion is going toward education and medical assistance.

If we can’t use the stimulus money in ways that would actually stimulate the economy, then it should be used on infrastructure. The stimulus money should be used on one-time projects or on projects with a life long enough that they’re almost one-time. Here’s an example: Waste water
runoff problems on Lake Michigan.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) prepares a report card that assesses 15 separate categories of the country’s infrastructure. The 2009 Report Card reports, “In 2009, all signs point to an infrastructure that is poorly maintained, unable to meet current and future demands, and in some cases, unsafe. Since the last Report Card in 2005, the grades have not improved. ASCE estimates the nation still stands at a D average. Deteriorating conditions and inflation have added hundreds of billions to the total cost of repairs and needed upgrades.”
The categories of drinking water and wastewater receive a grade of D-.

The ASCE says the nation’s drinking water systems have aging facilities in need of replacement to adhere to federal water regulations. Demand for drinking water will increase over the next 20 years. Meeting the demand will be difficult because the ASCE estimates seven billion gallons of clean drinking water are lost every day due to leaky pipes.

The same holds true for wastewater. The ASCE says every year, old systems are dumping billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into America’s surface waters.

Out of all the categories examined by the ASCE, Wisconsin ranked the worst in roads, drinking water, and wastewater.  We need to invest in what we are failing the worst at and that is concretely fixable with a return in health, efficiency, and effectiveness for all the residents of
Wisconsin.

We in Wisconsin are all too familiar with water problems. Our water in various areas of the state is questionably unsafe. Uncontrollable contamination of Lake Michigan is profoundly reckless. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the following on May 29, 2004:

“The sewerage district dumped an unprecedented 4.6 billion gallons of raw sewage in May—exceeding any annual dumping tally since the deep tunnel system opened in late 1993. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District officials blamed intense back-to-back storms and almost unrelenting rain for the massive sewage overflows. To visualize how much sewage was dumped by the district, consider these calculations: The 4.6 billion gallons would fill Miller Park 15 times over, from its base to its retractable roof. The sewage spill would also fill the U.S. Bank office tower on the lakefront 41 times.”

On October 7, 2004, Water & Wastes Digest reported a stunning discovery about the quality of drinking water in La Crosse:

“Prior to its chlorination, viruses from human sources occur in the La Crosse, Wisc., groundwater used for the municipal drinking water supply, a new report revealed.  Although the city's treated water meets or exceeds state and federal standards for drinking water, researchers and public health officials agree that more study is needed to pinpoint the exact sources of the viruses and to determine if some viruses are surviving the chlorination process. The study found interoviruses, rotavirus, hepatitis A virus and noroviruses. La Crosse's source of water is an aquifer consisting of a deposit of glacial outwash sand and gravel approximately 170 feet deep, bounded on the east by the bluffs and on the west by the Mississippi River. Sand and gravel aquifers are among the most vulnerable to fecal contamination.”


The 2003 ASCE Report Card on Infrastructure commended Wisconsin for how it handles municipal wastewater. However, the ASCE added this conclusion: “Yet much remains to be done to maintain or enhance this position as a leader in the United States. Significant investments in
 this infrastructure will be required to maintain this position and to address pending and likely future regulations and requirements.”

The same 2003 ASCE Report Card reported this about Wisconsin’s municipal wastewater treatment plants:

“In year 2000, 19 plants, about 2.8%, were rated as requiring improvements and 131 plants, about 19.5%, were rated as requiring some action. Estimated future needs through 2020 exceed $3.35 billion, while actual project funding has been less than $100 million per year.”

That brings us back to the state stimulus package that was approved in just a matter of days. Note the ASCE pinpointed the cost of addressing future wastewater needs at $3.35 billion. The state of Wisconsin expects to receive just under $4 billion in stimulus money from Washington. A better use of that money would be to invest in what we are failing at the worst and that is concretely fixable. The benefit is a return in health, efficiency, and effectiveness for all the residents of Wisconsin.

The damage being done in Milwaukee does not only affect Milwaukee, but the entire state of Wisconsin.  When compared to all other states we are failing the citizens of Wisconsin in providing access to clean safe drinking water and a safe waste disposal system more than any other infrastructure/education/healthcare category.

The federal stimulus package is an opportunity for us to create jobs, give every state access to safe drinking water, and build a future in our most valuable resources by fixing our water and sewage system. Think about it. We can fix our water safety, preserve a coveted resource, reduce unemployment, and repair our infrastructure. That is how we should be investing our stimulus package: in our water and sewage system.

Expect lane closures this week on I-94

News you can use


Here is important information from the state Department of Transportation about the I-94 North-South Freeway Project:

Construction update week of March 9 - 13:
I-94 North-South preliminary work progressing in Milwaukee County
Motorists should expect lane closures and plan ahead

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is announcing the following closures for preliminary work in the area around the Mitchell Interchange:

  • One lane is closed just north of Layton Ave. for utility work.
  • Lane closures will take place at westbound Layton Ave. at the east side of the 27 St. and Layton Ave. intersection.  
  • City of Milwaukee DPW began pavement removal for relocating utilities.  They have closed one lane of northbound 27th St., north of the Layton Ave. intersection.  This closure will be in effect for about two weeks. 
     
  • With utilities and the city working in the same area, only lane remains open on 27th St. north of Layton Ave. 
     
  • Grange Avenue remains closed over I-94

Read more

State Budget Watch: Governor Doyle’s assault on the elderly

State budget


My state Senate colleague, state Senator Michael Ellis (R-Neenah) was on the Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes radio talk shows last week to discuss a truly unbelievable provision in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget that would have severe ramifications for our elderly.

The governor calls for the creation of a registry of home care providers comprised of union workers that would have collective bargaining rights. Anyone receiving state assistance that wants home care would be required to hire a provider from this single union. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is reportedly interested in representing the union that would be established under the governor’s budget. In essence, the governor wants to take the entire home care registry and place it under state regulation.

A state authority would be created that would select a private entity, the SEIU for example, to represent the union. The registry of union home care workers would be the basis for collective bargaining. The state Legislature has never in the history of Wisconsin created a union by an act of the Legislature through statutes.

The impact on senior citizens will be significant. Health care costs will be driven up for seniors trying to stay out of nursing homes and live out their years in the warmth and comfort of their own homes. By paying home care providers, they stay off public assistance and prevent their personal assets from being drained.  This drives up costs for seniors at a time elderly are doing everything they can to stay in their own homes and minimize costs.

Seniors choosing not to use the registry would lose any benefits or participation. Once they have exhausted all their assets, they have little alternative except to go into a nursing home. Once seniors are in a nursing home, the governor calls for a big increase in the nursing home bed tax. 

Is the Governor placing payback to a special interest group that helped in the last election ahead of the financial well-being of our senior citizens that will be forced out of their homes? The governor, it should also be noted, neglected to mention this piece of his proposal during his state budget address to a joint session of the state Legislature.

Here is an analysis of this budget provision by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau:

The bill creates the Wisconsin Quality Home Care Authority (WQHCA), which is a public body corporate and politic created by state law, but which is not a state agency. A majority of members of the WQHCA board of directors must represent the interests of recipients of home care services. The WQHCA is subject to requirements such as state purchasing requirements, lobbying laws, and the code of ethics for public officials. The WQHCA is exempt from state employment requirements, and its employees are excluded from the state retirement system. The bill requires the WQHCA to establish and maintain a registry of providers; provide referrals to individuals seeking home care services; determine the eligibility of providers for placement on the registry; develop a recruitment program for providers; operate a backup provider system with a 24-hour per day call service; conduct activities to improve the supply and quality of home care providers; and perform other tasks.

This bill provides home care providers collective bargaining rights under state law in a manner similar to that provided state employees under the State Employment Labor Relations Act (SELRA). The collective bargaining unit is structured as one statewide unit and DHS acts as the state employer.

Under current law, some MA waiver programs and other programs provide a benefit for personal care services. This bill requires that an adult who 1) hires an individual home care provider other than an agency, county, or independent living center employee or a health care provider; 2) is a resident of a county that agrees to abide by certain requirements or that offers certain programs; and 3) is a recipient of a home care benefit through the Family Care Program, an MA waiver program, a self-directed supports option program, an amendment to the state medical assistance plan, or the Program of All-
Inclusive Care for the Elderly, must comply with certain requirements with regard to the hiring of the home care provider. The requirements include hiring only a provider eligible for inclusion on a registry maintained by the WQHCA and compensating providers in accordance with any state collective bargaining agreement pertaining to home care providers.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick McIlheran has more in what the newspaper headline calls a, “unionizing trick.”

Are you an "inactive voter?"

News you can use


If you have not voted in Wisconsin in four years or more, you are being urged to take action. The Government Accountability Board (GAB) sent out over 300-thousand postcards on February 20, 2009 to inactive voters warning of a March 23, 2009 deadline. Voters that fail to respond will be removed from poll lists but will be kept in the statewide voter database.

Voters that changed their name or address in the last four years must also reregister.If you have received a postcard, please fill it out and return promptly.

Here are details from the GAB.

Paul Ryan calls for major fiscal reforms

Economy, Taxes


Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee is calling for significant reform in tax, monetary and entitlement policies. Ryan characterizes President Obama’s federal budget as taxing "work, savings, investment, capital and risk-taking far more than we are today" and "hurting our chances of coming out of this recession robustly."

Ryan spoke with the Manager of Media Relations for the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. about his reform ideas.

Listen to the Tax Foundation podcast with Congressman Ryan

State Budget Watch: Heavy opposition to Gov. Doyle’s budget

State budget


A statewide survey of 500 likely voters during late February 2009 shows overwhelming support for cutting spending as the better alternative to fixing the state’s budget deficit.  The survey was conducted for the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a Madison-based think tank named after John K. MacIver. MacIver founded or led many significant and successful business, civic, cultural and political organizations in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

A release about the survey by the MacIver Institute says:

“83% of the people polled believe the best way to cut the deficit is to cut spending. Only 15% believe the state should focus on raising taxes to help balance the budget. In addition, 75% of the people polled oppose the Governor’s plan to increase the state budget by nearly eight percent, while only 22% thought that was a good idea.”

You can read all of the results of the survey here. 

The MacIver Institute has also found that state residents are split about the effectiveness of the stimulus package to Wisconsin.  

What could you do with $3190?

Taxes


According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C., corporate income taxes cost the average American household $3,190.
The Tax Foundation is running these ads about the burden of business taxes.

Here is the :30 TV ad.



Read more

New Berlin water diversion to be discussed at Thursday meeting

News you can use


An important state public hearing will be held Thursday in New Berlin about the city’s water diversion request.

Here are details from NewBerlinNOW 
and a recent article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I urge anyone who has concerns about this issue to attend.

Whitnall wins for Grandma, advances to sectional tonight!

Good news from Senate District 28


The Whitnall high school boy’s basketball team had to overcome grief to defeat Racine Case last Saturday and move on to a sectional semifinal game tonight against Racine Horlick.

Just hours before Saturday’s regional final contest, Whitnall players Josh, Stephen and William Pelkofer learned their grandmother, Catherine Pelkofer had died.  They played through their sadness with Josh Pelkover providing some last second heroics to eke out an inspired victory.

I congratulate Whitnall for their outstanding performance under such emotional circumstances and wish the team well tonight.

Read more from HalesCornersNOW.

State Budget Watch: As predicted, stimulus could make matters worse

State budget


Last month in a column and blog, I wrote the following about the state budget repair/stimulus bill that was rammed through the state Legislature:

“What happens, though, when this one-time money, and it is important to note that this is one-time money, dries up? What happens when it is all gone and our needs and wants continue? Using it to prop up our budget would be like using lottery winnings.  Once the winnings run out, the expenses remain and we simply face the same problem in two years, only without the same one-time money.”

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) provides an answer. The WPRI writes: 

“It (the stimulus package) creates a giant hole in the following budget that state taxpayers may be asked to fill. The Rockerfeller Institute has taken a look at state budgets nationwide, and has attempted to calculate the gaps that will be found in future state budgets when the federal stimulus spigot is turned off.  In their rosiest growth scenario, state budgets across the U.S. will face cuts of 4%, or $70 billion - but if growth continues to stagger, they estimate the cuts at 6% and $100 billion, respectively.“

The WPRI also emphasizes that Governor Doyle in his proposed state budget is banking on tax receipts increasing  2.6 percent  in 2009-2010. However, Stateline.org is reporting tax revenues in states across the country are taking a dive. 

It appears the dire predictions about the fiscal ramifications of the stimulus concept may come true.

English version of budget now available

State budget

 

Upon the Wisconsin State Legislature's receipt of the Governor's budget, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau goes to work preparing the English version of the budget.  Here is a link to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) website. At the website you may click on publications and find the budget.  This is the version that legislative members and the public uses to learn information about the budget.  As time passes the LFB will post papers the LFB prepares on various topics and items included in the budget.  

Here is a link to the Governor's budget that was delivered to the Legislature after the Governor's budget address. This is the legal version of the budget. 

State Budget Watch: 7.7 percent

State budget


There are many reasons to oppose Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. This could top the list.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) reports the state would spend 7.7 percent more in 2009-11 compared to the base year doubled under the governor’s proposed budget. You can see the LFB’s finding on this page of the LFB budget analysis under the heading, All Funds. 

The LFB took the amount of spending in the final year of the last biennial budget (2008-09) and doubled it, and then compared that figure to the total amount of spending in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. Spending jumps from $58.55 billion to $63.07 billion.

Here is the entire lengthy LFB analysis or English version of the budget as I like to call it.


You have a chance to speak out, that is, if you can take off ample time from work and other duties, and wait a long time to testify. Governor Doyle's 2009-11 proposed state budget also known as Assembly bill 75 (AB 75) is currently in the Joint Finance Committee. Here is the Committee schedule for budget public hearings. All hearings are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following days at the following locations:


    • Monday, March 23: Sparta. American Legion Hall, 1116 Angelo Road.
    • Wednesday, March 25: West Allis. State Fair Park, Banquet Room 2, 640 S. 84th St.
    • Friday, March 27:  Eau Claire.   UW-Eau Claire Haas Fine Arts Center, 121 Water St.
    • Monday, March 30: Racine.  Case High School Theater, 7345 Washington Ave.
    • Wednesday, April 1.  Appleton.  Lawrence University Stansbury Theater, 420 College Ave.
    • Friday, April 3: Cambridge.  Amundson Community Center, 200 Spring St.  
 

Upon completion of the Joint Finance Committee public hearings, the Committee will begin action on the budget.  Here is a link to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) website. At the website you may click on publications and find budget information.

The Joint Finance Committee co-chair has announced that the Committee should complete budget work by the end of May and send the budget to the Legislature.  The budget will then go to the State Assembly and the State Senate.  

If the Assembly and Senate version of the budget are the same, and I expect they will because Democrats control both houses of the Legislature, the bill goes to the Governor for vetoes and signature.  The Legislature will likely complete the budget by July 1, 2009. 

State Budget Watch: Fees

State budget


Plenty of fees go up in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. The Associated Press reports:

“Under Gov. Jim Doyle's $63 billion budget, a host of fees would go up over the next two years. And while the money raised would be small compared to other tax increases he proposed, the higher fees would target an array of people and activities.”


Here are more details.

You can help St. James in Mukwonago win a national contest

Good news from Senate District 28


During November 2008, I congratulated Marsha Grutzmacher and her students at St. James School in Mukwonago for winning the Midwest Regional Land category in the Lexus Eco Challenge. This marked the first time a Wisconsin school had won in any division.

St. James is now participating in the Final Challenge and a chance to win a grand prize of $50,000 in grants and scholarships. The school was notified February 27, 2009 that its next goal is to make its recycling efforts known to more people.

St. James has set up a Facebook group and blog. Please help St. James in their challenge by visiting and telling others about this site

The winners of the Lexus Eco Challenge will be announced in April. Best of luck to Mrs. Marsha Grutzmacher and the 8th grade class of St. James, Mukwonago!

DNR holding hearings about deer

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct statewide public meetings this month to discuss deer management issues. Information will be provided about the 2008 deer harvest, herd population estimates, CWD management, and the proposed 2009 season. 

During the upcoming meetings, those who attend will have the opportunity to recommend changes to the current deer management unit boundaries and goals. Suggestions will be reviewed by the DNR deer committee and the deer management unit stakeholder group when they make final recommendations.

For more information on this process, visit this website. 

Public meetings this month will have an “open house” format, meaning citizens may come and go at any time. Meetings are open anyone, especially those who have interest in deer management.  Meetings will be held at the following locations:

Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, and Waukesha Counties
Deer Management Units 77B-CWD, 77C-CWD, 77C, and 77M
Big Bend/Vernon Fire Station No. 3, W223 S7475 Woodland Ln, Big Bend, located just south of the intersection of Hwys 43 & 164, on the west side of Hwy 164
Thursday, March 19, open house 5:30-8:30 PM

Jefferson, Rock, and Southern Dodge Counties
Deer Management Units 76A-CWD and 77A-CWD
Fort Atkinson High School library, 925 Lexington Blvd, Fort Atkinson
Monday, March 23, open house 5:30-8:30 PM

You can get a complete list of statewide locations for the deer meetings here. 

In a related story, the Associated Press reports state deer numbers are down. 

The latest on Wisconsin stimulus money

News you can use, State budget


On Wednesday, March 11, 2009, I attended a briefing in the state Capitol updating the process for spending Wisconsin’s share of the federal stimulus money. Here is a summary of the briefing.

Originally, the stimulus was crafted to provide block grants. Now there are 132 separate, specific projects in the works in Wisconsin. Specific guidelines from federal officials on how to proceed are still forthcoming.

There are five “buckets” where the stimulus money can be spent:

1)     Tax cuts totaling $5.1 billion

2)     $2.1 billion in budget stabilization funds that are targeted for K-12 education and the Medical Assistance program.

3)     Formula programs. These are existing programs like transportation and clean water.

4)     Competitive grants

5)     Federal agencies

The Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment has been set up to assist local communities and the private sector with stimulus projects. The office has a website that is up and operating. 

Jeff Ripp of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is a staff member of the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. Ripp spoke at the briefing, saying that the majority of the stimulus funding is going toward existing programs, as I have reported in previous blogs. There is not a master list of projects and corresponding funding. The Office of Recovery and Reinvestment has a clearinghouse function with a key role of getting stimulus information to the public and interested parties.

The approach being taken to project ideas is twofold:

1)     Will the project create jobs?

2)     The goal is speed with projects being started and completed quickly.

Ripp said that because the stimulus money is considered to be “extra” money, Ripp believes money will be freed up for later projects.

Contacts are being made to parties that have submitted project ideas. Those submissions are not considered official applications for projects. All project ideas must meet the proper standards, permitting procedures, etc. The Office of Recovery and Reinvestment is directing people with ideas through appropriate channels.

Chris Connor, another Office of Recovery and Reinvestment staff member said the office’s website will soon list the cost of individual projects. Most state agency websites will also provide similar information. The Office of Recovery and Reinvestment website will link to those state agencies.

Dave Jenkins of the Office of Recovery and Reinvestment concluded the briefing with news that the $500 tax credit for homeowner energy efficiency has been increased to $1500. Jenkins said the energy efficiency window will bring more people back to work as homeowners make improvements.

Jenkins referred to energy research being conducted on Wisconsin campuses, asserting that the stimulus money is not, “welfare for university professors.”

I was struck by a handout Jenkins distributed from Governor Doyle and the Office of Energy Independence that included a segment about the Focus on Energy Toll-free Number, 800-969-9322. The handout reads, “This is a STATE program that provides rebates and incentives for consumers and businesses in areas of energy efficiency and renewables. This is NOT a stimulus program.”

Finally, a master calendar of deadlines will be established and published and the office website will be updated with daily alerts.

Currently, $529 million has been allocated for the general area of highways and bridges and $158 million will go to local municipalities.

State Budget Watch: A stunning insurance mandate

State budget


The more we learn about Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget, the worse it gets.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released its analysis, or what I call the English version of the governor’s budget. At the top of page 417, I found this item:

“HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE -- COVERAGE REQUIREMENTS FOR DEPENDENTS
Governor: Require every health insurance policy, and every self-insured health plan of  the state or county, city, town, village, or school district that provides coverage for a person as a  dependent of an insured to provide dependent coverage for a child of an insured unless: (a) the  child is 27 years of age or older; (b) the child is married; (c) the child has other health care  coverage; (d) the child is employed full time and his or her employer offers health care coverage to its employees; or (e) coverage of the insured through whom the child has dependent coverage under the policy or plan is discontinued or not renewed.”

The governor is proposing a stunning mandate, requiring that all insurance policies cover dependents in some cases until they reach the age of 27. This mind-boggling provision will dramatically increase insurance costs and exacerbate the entitlement mentality that is causing major budget problems.

It is yet another budget item the governor failed to mention publicly in his budget address to a joint session of the state Legislature.

State Budget Watch: Provision in governor's budget puts children in harm's way

State budget

Apparently Governor Doyle has either forgotten or does not care about the state’s handling of one of its most notorious sex offenders, Billie Lee Morford.

I am shocked to find a reckless and startling provision in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget that jeopardizes child safety. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in its analysis or English version of the budget as I like to refer to it cites this item:

ESCORTS FOR SEXUALLY VIOLENT PERSONS DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF SUPERVISED RELEASE
Governor: Repeal a provision that requires a court, as a condition of granting supervised  release to a sexually violent person (SVP), to require, during the first year of supervised release, that the SVP be under the direct supervision of a Department of Corrections escort for  permissible outings. Instead, permit DHS to require such escorts as a rule of supervised release during the first year. Specify that this provision would first apply to a person who is on, or who is released on supervised release on the bill's general effective date. In addition, clarify that DHS, rather than the Department of Corrections, contracts for these services, effective with the bill's general effective date.

The supervised release program provides treatment to individuals who are committed as sexually violent persons under Chapter 980 of the statutes and who have been released by the court under the supervision of DHS. Under current law, all individuals who have been released into the community on supervised release are restricted to their homes during the first year of their release, except for outings that are for employment purposes, religious purposes, or for caring for the individual's basic living needs. Further, all outings must be under the direct supervision of a DOC escort. The bill would permit DHS to decide whether to require direct supervision of DOC escorts.”

It is almost breathtaking. Allowing released sexually violent persons to go without state supervision is highly risky and dangerous. Given how the Doyle administration handled Billie Lee Morford, while I am appalled at this budget provision, I am not surprised. During 2006, I expressed my outrage that habitual sex offender Billy Lee Morford had been traveling for 18 months from his northwest side Milwaukee home to Franklin without state notification to Franklin. 

A
t the time, I wrote in a letter to Governor Doyle, “My constituents and I absolutely do not have a sense of security or trust in the Department’s supervision of Chapter 980 sexually violent persons. I want the general public, and most importantly, parents to know the whereabouts of sexually violent persons at all times so that they may take measures to protect their children, because the government is not protecting them. Sexually violent persons have violated society in the worst way, and if the government cannot protect people from them, then people must have information available to them to avoid contact with sexually violent persons.” 

After discovering this provision in Governor Doyle’s budget, I have even less confidence in the governor and his administration that they can effectively provide child care safety or even regard the issue as a high priority.

Seems to me I have heard that slogan before


Governor Doyle has announced the state’s new slogan to promote tourism: “Live Like you Mean It.”

If you think you have heard or seen that slogan before, you have. Check the lower right hand corner:





And it was used here. 

One of the authors is quoted by the Associated Press that she would consider a lawsuit.

Here’s the story.

State Budget Watch: New radio ad

State budget


"Wisconsin residents need to know that there is a $2.5 billion tax hike pending at the Capitol"

James S. Haney, the president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) makes that comment in a news release announcing a radio ad campaign to inform Wisconsin residents of the tax increases being discussed in Madison.

You can see the WMC release that contains a link to the radio ad here.

I have invited top business officials to testify at important WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force meeting

Business


The WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force continues its series of meetings this Monday in Brown Deer. A successful meeting was held on March 10, 2009 in Howard, near Green Bay. 
 

It is imperative Wisconsin businesspeople attend, share their expertise and voice their concerns about the ramifications the proposed state budget and the recently approved state stimulus/budget repair bill will have on Wisconsin’s struggling business climate and economy.

I have personally invited Wisconsin’s top business leaders to the next WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force meeting Monday, March 23, 2009. Their input is invaluable in reviving our state economy and getting people back to work. Here is the invitation I extended:


Dear Chamber of Commerce Leader:

Do you share my deep concern that Wisconsin’s business climate is in desperate need of dramatic improvement?

Republicans in the state Legislature have formed the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force that is touring the state holding listening sessions soliciting input from the business community. I invite you and your members to attend the next meeting of the task force scheduled Monday, March 23, 2009
, in the Milwaukee area to discuss your concerns about Wisconsin business policies and suggestions to strengthen our business climate.

Your input will be incorporated into a report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and truly stimulate our economy. The task force was developed by legislative Republicans after the Wisconsin budget adjustment bill was approved and signed into law in a span of 48 hours without adequate scrutiny from the public or news media. The bill made significant changes to the state’s business tax structure with the enactment of combined reporting, a streamlined sales tax, a sales tax on business software, and several other tax increases. Other business proposals in the Legislature include a minimum wage increase and changes in the wage lien law that were approved by Democrats controlling the state Senate and are currently in the State Assembly.

A very successful and productive task force meeting was conducted Tuesday, March 10, 2009 in Howard, Wisconsin near Green Bay. Mr. Cap Wulf of the Wulf Brothers heating and cooling company in Sturgeon Bay made an excellent statement summarizing the general business consensus: "We in the business community who make it possible for government to exist need to come together and unite.  People in power now represent government, unions and trial lawyers. I don't know where business falls in their thinking. I feel more like an indentured servant.”

I strongly encourage you to share your much-needed expertise at the next task force meeting:

Monday, March 23, 2009
BioResearch, Inc.
9275 N. 49th St.
Suite 150

Brown Deer, WI
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM 

Please RSVP your attendance to me.  If you wish to testify and are unable to attend, please send me your testimony and I will make sure it is included with live testimony.

I also invite you to read my business entries on the BizTimes Biz Blog at  http://www.biztimes.com/blogs/milwaukee-biz-blog/authors/senator-mary-lazich  and my blog about various state government issues on the MyCommunityNOW website at http://blogs.newberlinnow.com/conserv_speaking/.  You can also see an interview I did with Wisconsin Eye about Governor Doyle's proposed 2009-11 state budget and the state stimulus/budget repair bill:  mms://71.87.25.133/dis/dis_090219_sen_lazich.wmv   

Sincerely,  

Mary Lazich
Wisconsin State
Senator
(608) 266-5400

State Budget Watch: The impact on public safety

State budget


Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen held a news conference in Waukesha Monday, expressing deep concern about the impact Governor Doyle’s proposed state budget would have on crime and public safety. Here is an excerpt from a statement Van Hollen released:

“Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed budget fails to protect law enforcement’s existing ability to protect public safety – clearly… and frankly – it takes dramatic steps backward.
For example:

It calls for
• Early release of felons from prison

It calls for
• Early termination for felons on extended supervision (or parole)

It calls for
|
• Elimination of probation for some misdemeanants

It calls for
• Reducing GPS monitoring of sex offenders

It calls for 
• Elimination of the front license plate 

It…
• Imposes a new traffic-stop record keeping responsibility – an unwelcome and unfunded mandate – on every local law enforcement agency and the Department of Justice who the proposal envisions will receive and collate this data

It…
• Increases the Handgun Hotline fee by more than double my requested adjustment of $13 (which is the transaction cost) to $30 per check with the extra money this generates going to pay for what had been paid for by those who violate the law. “

You can see the Attorney General’s statement here  and his news release. Here is more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including audio from Van Hollen’s news conference.

Massachusetts health care in serious trouble

Government health care


While state Senate Democrats in Wisconsin consider reintroducing their costly government health care program that had an original price tag of $15.2 billion, Massachusetts’ similar plan continues to spiral out of control.

The New York Times reports, “Threatened first by rapid early enrollment in its new subsidized insurance program and now by a withering economy, the state’s pioneering overhaul has entered a second, more challenging phase. Thanks to new taxes and fees imposed last year, the health plan’s jittery finances have stabilized for the moment. But government and industry officials agree that the plan will not be sustainable over the next 5 to 10 years if they do not take significant steps to arrest the growth of health spending.”

Massachusetts spends 33 percent more per person on health care than the national average.

Read more in the New York Times.

I hope Governor Doyle, legislative Democrats do not find out about this

Taxes


The governor of Illinois is preparing to propose an incredible tax increase this week. The Chicago Tribune reports, “The Tribune has reported that sources familiar with the governor's budget speech on Wednesday say  (Governor Pat) Quinn is considering raising the state's personal income tax rate, to 4.5 percent from 3 percent.”

That is a 50 percent increase. Yikes!

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Congratulations, Holy Apostles of New Berlin!

Good news from Senate District 28


The boy’s basketball team at Holy Apostles Elementary School of New Berlin advanced to the quarterfinals of the Padre Serra Tournament after a 37-32 win over top-seeded St. Joseph’s of Wauwatosa Sunday afternoon at Mount Mary College.

Holy Apostles will play another school from state Senate District 28, St. Leonard’s of Muskego this Friday night in the tournament. St. Leonard’s advanced with their win over Holy Family of Sheboygan Sunday.

In the girls’ bracket, Holy Apostles of New Berlin faces St. Agnes/ St. Anthony of Menomonee Falls this Thursday night. Also this Thursday, St. Mary of Hales Corners plays St. Sebastian of Milwaukee.

You can find complete information about the prestigious Padre Serra Tournament at its website.

State Budget Watch: $1,707,734,400

State budget, Taxes


That is the total amount of tax and fee increases in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget: $1,707,734,400.

The figure was released in a memo I received today from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. 

"We should not, we must not and I will not raise taxes."
Governor Doyle’s 2003 State of the State address

March Madness is here, and for too many, that is unfortunate

Gambling


It is officially underway.

Most college basketball enthusiasts and casual observers are able to handle March Madness, the onslaught of the annual NCAA College Basketball Tournament. Many, unfortunately, cannot.

Read more

State Budget Watch: Your cell phone

State budget


Here is yet another example of Governor Doyle’s penchant for raiding funds.

The governor is calling for $25 million in rebates designed for consumers to instead be transferred to local governments. It is another in a pattern of moves by the governor to raid funds to use for another purpose. There is a larger principle at play. This is your money and the governor wants to take it away.

The Associated Press has complete details on the history of the rebate and the governor’s provision in his proposed 2009-11 state budget here.

History might tell us the stimulus theory is a loser


Last month I compared the stimulus package approved by the state Legislature to the huge stimulus measure adopted in Washington. I wrote:

“The state Legislature committed the same colossal error Congress made with the federal stimulus. Legislators were swept into the same rush to act as our representatives in Washington.  There was little, if any light of day shed on a massive budget repair proposal that was approved by the state Senate and Assembly and signed into law. The taxpaying public and the news media did not have the proper time to review the nearly 400-page bill legislators suddenly had dumped on their calendars.”

Veronique de Rugy, an economist specializing in tax matters at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University goes even further, saying that costly, ambitious measures designed to stimulate the economy never work.

De Rugy argues that the New Deal, military spending during World War II, eight Japanese stimulus packages during the 1990’s, and the 2008 federal rebate checks, all crafted to rejuvenate slumping economies failed to have the intended results. She makes a strong, compelling case against the stimulus concept in a column in Reason magazine:

“The thinking behind stimulus legislation assumes that the government is better at spending $825 billion than the private sector. When Obama says, ‘We’ll invest in what works,’ he means, ‘unlike you bozos.’ The president’s faith in Washington is sweet, but politics rather than sound economics guide government spending. Politicians rely on lobbyists from unions, corporations, pressure groups, and state and local governments when they decide how to spend other people’s money. By contrast, entrepreneurs’ decisions to spend their own cash are guided by monetary profit and loss. That’s likely to work better and certain to produce more innovation.

The biggest problem is that the government can’t inject money into the economy without first taking money out of the economy. Where does the government get that money? It can a) borrow it or b) collect it from taxes. There is no aggregate increase in demand. Government borrowing and spending doesn’t boost national income or standard of living; it merely redistributes it. The pie is sliced focus on real incentives to work and invest, such as cutting marginal tax rates for everyone. “

I concur with de Rugy’s final conclusion: “Focus on real incentives to work and invest, such as cutting marginal tax rates for everyone.”

Here is de Rugy’s column.

DNR searches without warrants?


Proposed legislation that could be introduced soon in Madison would increase the authority of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Here is an analysis of part of the legislation by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. Read carefully:

“Under current law, DNR administers a statewide program to control invasive species. This bill authorizes DNR, for the purpose of administering and enforcing the statewide invasive species program, to conduct compliance investigations. The bill authorizes a DNR warden or other DNR representative to enter premises where invasive species are stored, where records relating to invasive species are kept, where vehicles, boats, equipment, or materials are located, or where activities related to invasive species are conducted. It also authorizes DNR to inspect invasive species stored or possessed by any person, inspect records or reports relating to invasive species, take diagnostic samples, and seize and destroy certain invasive species.”

The Lakeland Times newspaper has picked up on the story with this headline:

DNR could enter any premise where vehicles or boats are stored”

Investigative reporter Richard Moore writes:

“It (the bill) would also authorize the agency (DNR) to conduct ‘compliance investigations’ and allow the DNR to promulgate an emergency rule to identify, classify, or control an invasive species without providing evidence of an emergency. Such rules can be in place for up to two years.  According to the analysis, the bill would not only expand the law enforcement authority of DNR wardens but empower non-law enforcement DNR personnel to enter a person's private property as well. In other words, any DNR representative could enter any property where a vehicle or boat is kept at any time to conduct a compliance investigation.”

Here is the Lakeland Times article that also raises questions about the constitutionality of the legislation. 

I cannot support legislation that would expand the scope of the DNR’s authority in the manner outlined.

State Budget Watch: Digging a deeper hole

State budget


Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget gets worse and worse. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has issued a memo that the state faces another huge budget shortfall in the 2011-13 biennium.


The LFB writes, “For 2011-12, the general fund would need to generate $713 million in order to meet current commitments and those of AB 75 (Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget), maintain the required statutory balance, and balance the budget for that year. In 2012-13, $861 million ($148 million over the $113 million in 2011-12) would need to be realized.

That amounts to a $1.574 billion deficit in the 2011-13 state budget that would need to be addressed.

Here is the LFB memo.

A special message to businesspeople in state Senate District 28

Business


The WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force holds a meeting in Brown Deer Monday, March 23, 2009  to hear critical testimony about how to revive Wisconsin’s economy. A successful meeting was held on March 10, 2009 in Howard, near Green Bay. 

It is imperative Wisconsin businesspeople attend, share their expertise and voice their concerns about the ramifications the proposed state budget and the recently approved state stimulus/budget repair bill will have on Wisconsin’s struggling business climate and economy.

I invite business leaders from Senate District 28 that I represent to Monday’s Task Force meeting. Your input is invaluable in reviving our state economy and getting people back to work.

Republicans in the state Legislature have formed the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force that is touring the state holding listening sessions soliciting input from the business community. Senate District 28 businesspeople, your input will be incorporated into a report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and truly stimulate our economy. The task force was developed by legislative Republicans after the Wisconsin budget adjustment bill was approved and signed into law in a span of 48 hours without adequate scrutiny from the public or news media. The bill made significant changes to the state’s business tax structure with the enactment of combined reporting, a streamlined sales tax
, a sales tax on business software, and several other tax increases. Other business proposals in the Legislature include a minimum wage increase and changes in the wage lien law that were approved by Democrats controlling the state Senate and are currently in the State Assembly.

I strongly encourage you to share your much-needed expertise at the next task force meeting:

Monday, March 23, 2009
BioResearch, Inc.
9275 N. 49th St
.
Suite 150
Brown Deer, WI
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
 

Please RSVP your attendance to me.  If you wish to testify and are unable to attend, please send me your testimony and I will make sure it is included with live testimony.

State Senate Calendar for Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 11:00 a.m..



Holy Apostles of New Berlin finishes 4th at Padre Serra

Good news from Senate District 28


The boy’s basketball team at Holy Apostles of New Berlin had a great run in the Padre Serra tournament, finishing 4th among 36 teams. The tournament concluded Sunday at Mount Mary College.

Ty Sabin of Holy Apostles was named to the All-Tournament team.

Congratulations to Holy Apostles for an outstanding tournament!

You can read more about Padre Serra at their website.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update

News you can use


Here is the update for this week from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update week of March 22-27:
I-94 North-South preliminary work update in Milwaukee County
All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.  New long-term closures are BOLD.


TUESDAY, MARCH 24

Right lane closures on Rawson Ave. between 27th St. and 20th    9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Single lane closure on 27th St. between Layton and Bolivar       All day
Double lane closures on I-894 EB from 51st to Loomis Rd.        10 p.m.-6 a.m.
Double lane closures on 27th St. NB from Layton to Bolivar      9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m.

Bi-directional traffic will run on SB 27th St. over I-894 Until Mid July (two lanes in each direction)
Median work at College Ave. and WIS 38  9 a.m.-3 p.m.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25

Right lane closures on Rawson Ave. between 27th St. and 20th    9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Median work at College Ave. and WIS 38  9 a.m.-3 p.m.


THURSDAY, MARCH 26 

Right lane closures on Rawson Ave. between 27th St. and 20th    9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Median work at College Ave. and WIS 38  9 a.m.-3 p.m.


FRIDAY, MARCH 27

Right lane closures on Rawson Ave. between 27th St. and 20th    9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Double lane closures on I-894 EB at 27th St.    11 p.m - 8 a.m.
Double lane closures on I-894 WB at 27th St.   11 p.m - 8 a.m.


LONG TERM CLOSURES

27th St. off-ramp from I-894 WB 3/23/09 - Mid July
27th St on-ramp from I-894 EB   3/23/09 - Mid July 
27th St NB on-ramp to I-894 WB 3/23/09 - Mid July
I-894 WB right lane closure before 27th St.  3/23/09 - Mid July
B
i-directional traffic will run on SB 27th St. over I-894 3/24/09 - Mid July (two lanes in each direction)
Full closure of Grange Ave from 15th St. to 20th St. Until Mid November

Is Wisconsin good for business? Business leaders speak out

Business


“We’re at war!”

“I’m in business. That doesn’t make me GM or AIG.”

“I’m not some faceless b**tard. I’m a capitalist.”

Thirty-three business leaders testified about their concerns with Wisconsin business policies at the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force’s latest meeting Monday at BioResearch Inc. in Brown Deer. The meeting that I attended gave businesspeople an opportunity share their valuable expertise about what is wrong with the state’s business climate and what must be done to rejuvenate our slumping economy.

The task force was developed by legislative Republicans after the Wisconsin budget adjustment bill was approved and signed into law in a span of 48 hours without adequate scrutiny from the public or news media. The bill made significant changes to the state’s business tax structure with the enactment of combined reporting, a streamlined sales tax, a sales tax on business software, and several other tax increases.

The input from businesspeople will be incorporated into a report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and truly stimulate our economy.

As I expected, the businesspeople assembled all brought a wealth of invaluable expertise and I was extremely impressed with their contributions.

I was struck by the number of scathing remarks about state government’s hostile attitude toward and treatment of business. The most complimentary comment if you want to call it that came from one businessman who said there is a “misunderstanding” in Madison about small business. Other speakers were more direct.

Laurie Bucaro of Fun Things Toy Service in Muskego said, “I have never felt welcomed by state government.”

“We’re being demonized as businesspeople for making profits. That’s wrong. We’re making jobs,” said Al Schmitz of Schmitz Ready Mix in Milwaukee. “We invest our hearts and souls into business. Being a success is not a crime. We started with nothing. We’re scared because we’re seeing everything evaporate before our very eyes.”

“I encourage you to put a face on real businesspeople,” implored Sue Szymczak of Safeway Sling in Greendale. “We’re not out to cheat or oppress people.”

Racine businessman Gary Schlidt told the Task Force his business counterparts in Europe can’t believe how socialized America is becoming.

Rich Hacker, the General Manager of Engineered Pump Services in Mukwonago said, “Let me keep more of my money and I’ll invest it and hire people.”

David Kliber, the President/CEO of SF Analytical Laboratories Inc. in New Berlin echoed Hacker’s comments. “We must be more pro-business,” said Kliber. “We create jobs. We don’t need the public sector taking it away.”

Government intervention during these rough economic times is especially problematic for businesspeople, many of whom told the Task Force their sales are down, revenues are down, hours worked are down, however taxes, fees, insurance, inflation, health care, and advertising are all up.

Businesses have responded by reducing expenses and making cutbacks, yet the businesspeople wonder what government has done. They correctly see the state increasing taxing and spending at a time when businesses and working families are holding back.

State businesses, when faced with trying to compete in a hostile business climate, have few options. They can move their business to another, more favorable location. Or they can stay and work hard not to pass on additional taxes and fees to their consumers.

Some speakers said the Task Force members were probably not hearing anything new. I had to agree. Many of their concerns are issues I have been writing about for some time: Governor Doyle’s proposed state budget, high taxes and spending, the cost of doing business, the awful business climate, the need for more skilled workers, and the loss of our best, brightest, and wealthiest to other states.

There were suggestions that the state should have a “Jobs” Czar or Secretary of Manufacturing. After all, the state has a Secretary of Agriculture.

Dick Stangel of Weimer Bearing and Transmission in Menomonee Falls urged the Task Force not to dismiss or forget manufacturing. “If we don’t make it, mine it, or grow it, our standard of living will decrease,” said Stangel.

One of the questions businesspeople were asked to consider during the roundtable discussion was, “What does state government currently do right to help job growth?” None of the attendees was able to furnish an answer.

There was this bit of advice for state legislators from Kraig Sadnowikow of American Design and Build in West Bend that drew laughter from the audience:

“Pay your taxes. Love your spouse and only your spouse.”

Sadnowikow then changed to a serious tone saying that ethics would rule the day in the state Capitol and that those exercising punitive opposition to business are lacking the proper ethics.

Jonathan Pearl offered some encouragement. Pearl is a recent transfer to the Badger State. He left the orange trees in his Southern California backyard to start a speech technology business here. Pearl said Wisconsin has the potential to be the next Silicon Valley if it creates the right climate with the right incentives.

Many speakers referenced the quality of life in our state, the kind that allured Jonathan Pearl. One businessperson concluded his testimony saying, “Wisconsin is a great place to live if we can survive.”

Cindy Detiege of Watry Industries in Sheboygan posed the following:

“Business has always been good for Wisconsin. Is Wisconsin good for business?”

Judging from the sentiments at the Task Force meeting, the consensus would be a resounding no.

The Wisconsin Jobs NOW Task Force will hold its next roundtable discussion in Eau Claire on Monday, March 30, 2009 in the Community Room, RCU Corporate Center, 200 Riverfront Terrace, Eau Claire, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Congratulations to Kevin and Jennifer Fischer!

Kevin and his wife Jennifer welcomed Kyla Audrey Fischer to our world last night, Wednesday, March 25, at 10:45 p.m. Kyla is 6 pounds and 21 inches long.

Read more

Harley Davidson rides out the tough times

Motorcycles


As a Harley Davidson owner, rider, and enthusiast,   I was intrigued by a New York Times piece that chronicles the company’s recent financial troubles.

Loyalty is not an issue. The New York Times writes:

“When customers buy a Harley, they’re instantly a member of a family of zealous fans — guys with tattoos and unruly hair as well as lawyers and doctors. (The average household income of today’s rider is about $87,000.)

The company’s Harley Owners Group program, founded in 1983, has more than one million members who come together for rallies and rides, swapping their favorite touring stories and chatting about new product lines.
 
Photo: Harley Davidson archives

‘Harley brings together all walks of life,’ says Mark-Hans Richer, Harley’s chief marketing officer. ‘You’ll find a neurosurgeon talking and riding with a janitor. It’s a family.’

By building such a powerful brand with offbeat, behind-the-scenes efforts — little advertising, lots of accessories and minor visible changes to bikes over the decades — Harley has become a case study for academics, marketing gurus and other corporations.”

The problem is Harley Davidson’s stalwart baby boomer supporters are getting older. Those consumers that are purchasing motorcycles are much younger and are opting for foreign models.

Harley Davidson, like everyone else, has not been immune to a struggling economy. Fewer purchases have led to a decline in production. Many who bought motorcycles have defaulted on loans made with the company.

Can Harley Davidson bounce back? You bet. History tells us the resilient company rebounded from the brinks of bankruptcy during the 1980’s.

And while Harley Davidson recognizes from a marketing strategy that it must expand its appeal to a younger crowd, will it forget those graying boomers?  That is unlikely.  

Mark-Hans Richer, Harley’s chief marketing officer told the New York Times, “They’re not about to stop riding because they’re getting older. It would be dumb to walk away from our core customer, the most lucrative customer.”

You can read the New York Times article here.

Spam Blocker Working Too Hard

Recently I learned that someone was sending emails to my office, and the emails were not reaching my inbox. As you can imagine, the sender was frustrated at not receiving a reply. This is unacceptable for both the sender and for me.

I contacted staff at the Legislative Technical Service Bureau (LTSB) to find out what happened. LTSB staff explain that each email sent to the Wisconsin Legislature passes through the spam filtering system and is given a spam score. Free web-based emails accounts are frequently used by spammers. Emails sent from these email addresses receive a higher spam score. The filtering technology takes into consideration the sender’s email address, the content of the message, links within the email, the number of recipients, etc. The score determines the likelihood of the email being spam. Spam emails are quarantined or blocked depending on their scores, and if a score is high enough to block an email, even the receiver is unaware that it was ever sent. The parameters associated with the scoring process are adjusted by the spam filtering technology provider on an hourly basis to keep current with clever spammers.

Read more

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update

News you can use


Here is the update for this week from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update week of March 29- April 4:
I-94 North-South preliminary work update in Milwaukee County
All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.  New long-term closures are BOLD.

SUNDAY, MARCH 29
No Closures Scheduled


MONDAY, MARCH 30
Long-term full closure of College Avenue Bridge over I94/I43  5:30 a.m. - November 2009
Restrict travel lane width of Airport Spur WB to I-94 EAST (SB) entrance loop ramp.  7 a.m. - Early July 2009
I-894/I-43 EB double lane closures from 35th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-894/I-43 WB double lane closures from 20th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
Single lane closure College Ave WB at STH 38 (Howell Ave.) 9 a.m. - 3 p.m
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and Loomis Rd. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and 27th St  9 a.m. – 2 p.m.


TUESDAY, MARCH 31
I-894/I-43 EB double lane closures from 35th St to 27th St.  9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.mI-894/I-43 WB double lane closures from 20th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.mSingle lane closure College Ave WB at STH 38 (Howell Ave.) 9 a.m. - 3 p.m
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and Loomis Rd. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and 27th St. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1

I-894/I-43 EB double lane closures from 35th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-894/I-43 WB double lane closures from 20th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-94 WEST (NB) double lane closure from Rawson Ave to College Ave. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-94 EAST (SB) double lane closure from Airport Spur to College Ave. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
Single lane closure College Ave WB at STH 38 (Howell Ave.) 9 a.m. - 3 p.m
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and Loomis Rd. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and 27th St. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.


THURSDAY, APRIL 2 
I-894/I-43 EB double lane closures from 35th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-894/I-43 WB double lane closures from 20th St to 27th St. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-94 WEST (NB) double lane closure from Rawson Ave to Grange Ave. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
I-94 EAST (SB) double lane closure from Edgerton Ave to College Ave. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
Full closure of I-94 EAST (SB) exit ramp to the Airport Spur EB 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
Airport Spur WB full closure at Howell Ave. 9:30 p.m.-5:30 a.m
Single lane closure College Ave WB at STH 38 (Howell Ave.) 9 a.m. - 3 p.m
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and Loomis Rd. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and 27th St. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.


FRIDAY, APRIL 3
I-94 EAST (SB) full freeway closure at College Ave.;lane closures begin at Airport Spur 11 p.m - 9 a.m.
I-94 WEST (NB) inside single lane closure at College. 11 p.m - 9 a.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and Loomis Rd. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Alternating single lane closures at the intersection of Layton Ave and 27th St. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.


SATURDAY, APRIL 4
I-94 EAST (SB) full freeway closure at College Ave; lane closures begin at Airport Spur. 11 p.m - 10 a.m.
I-94 WEST (NB) inside lane closure at College Ave. 11 p.m - 10 a.m.


LONG TERM CLOSURES
I-894/I-43 WB exit ramp to 27th Street. Until Late July
27th St entrance ramp to I-894/I-43 EB. Until Late July    
2
7th St NB entrance loop ramp to I-894 WB. Until Late July
I-894/I-43 WB right lane closure between Mitchell Interchange and 27th Street. Until Late July
Single lane closures on NB and SB 27th Street between Layton Ave and Bottsford Ave; both directions of traffic will run on the 27th St. SB bridge over I-894 (two lanes in each direction). Until Late July
Full closure of College Ave from 15th St. to 20th Street. 3/30/09 - November 2009
Full closure of Grange Ave from 15th St. to 20th St. Until November 2009

Congratulations to these outstanding girl basketball players!

Good news from Senate District 28


These high school girl basketball players from schools located in Senate District 28 were named to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area Girls Basketball Teams that were announced this past weekend. Congratulations to all of these student athletes for their outstanding accomplishment!

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:


JOURNAL SENTINEL ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM

SECOND TEAM

Katie Ellerson, 5-11, jr., F, Muskego: Averaged 15.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 1.7 blocks for Muskego, which went 21-2 and lost to Brookfield Central by one point in a sectional final. The daughter of Gary Ellerson, who played football for the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. A versatile, complete-game type of player.

Keira Al-Mohareb, 5-9, sr., F, Whitnall: Averaged 16 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.6 apg and 2.9 spg as Whitnall (17-5) repeated as Woodland Conference Southern Division champion. Shot 55% from the field. Named Community Newspapers Suburban Player of the Year. Considering attending the University of Tampa.

Krissie Fehly, 5-7, sr., G, Mukwonago: Player of the year in the Classic 8 Conference. Led Mukwonago to unbeaten regular season and berth in sectional final. Averaged 7.9 ppg. Coach Staci Butalla: "She is an exceptional leader on and off the court."


FOURTH TEAM

Briana Radowicz, 5-9, sr., G, Mukwonago: Averaged a team-high 10.4 ppg for an Indians team that went 20-0 in the regular season and lost to Milwaukee Vincent in a sectional final.

HONORABLE MENTION

KAnna Hahn, 6-0, soph., F, New Berlin Eisenhower

Mariah Hill, 5-7, soph., G, Franklin

Kelly Menden, 5-4, sr., G, Whitnall

Mary Merg, 5-7, jr., G, Greendale

Sarah Mlachnik, 5-7, sr., G, Muskego

Shannon Narlock, 5-7, sr., C, Franklin

Rachel Neuberger, 6-1, jr., F, Muskego

Kelsey Pohlmann, 6-2, jr., C-F, Greendale

Liz Radtke, 5-11, sr., G, New Berlin West

Megan Tkachuk, 5-5, jr., G, New Berlin Eisenhower

Wisconsin businesspeople continue to voice concerns

Business


The third meeting of the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW TASK FORCE was held Monday in Eau Claire. About 50 businesspeople attended to discuss their concerns about Wisconsin’s business climate, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. 

Here is my blog about last week’s task force meeting in Brown Deer and the Green Bay Press Gazette’s coverage of the first meeting in Howard.

UPDATE: Harley-Davidson rides out the tough times

Motorcycles


Last week, I blogged about a New York Times article that said Harley-Davidson was having troubles because its baby boomer clientele was getting too old.  

My reaction was that the storied company has a history of resiliency and would rebound.

Harley-Davidson’s reaction? It responded by taking out a rather blunt, full two-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times in the form of the American flag:



Flag

Tax Freedom Day is April 13

Taxes


Tax Freedom Day
is the day Americans will have earned enough money to
pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels.

Tax Freedom Day in Wisconsin will also fall on April 13, 2009.  That compares to last year’s Tax Freedom day of April 21, 2008.

If that sounds like good news, it depends on your view. Wisconsin’s 2008 Tax Freedom Day was the 14th worst in the country. This year’s Tax Freedom Day is the 12th worst of all the states.

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