Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
The surpluses are all gone and revenues are down.
So what is the obligatory knee jerk reaction?
You got it. Raise taxes.
The Associated Press is reporting that a trend of tax hikes has developed, tax hikes in areas that are somewhat unusual.
For example, New York wants to tax illegal drugs. In Texas, as I talked about on WISN, there is now a tax on gentlemen’s clubs cleverly called, a “pole tax.” Six states tax pornography.
The strategy is that sure, it’s a tax, but who could argue with a tax on a sleazy strip club or illegal drugs?
States, including Wisconsin, tax visiting entertainers and athletes. That would be your, “jock tax.”
Indiana and Virginia cash in on future lottery profits.
At Halloween, some states tax the sales of pumpkins.
Many states impose an “amusement tax” for live shows.
It’s amazing how the tax and spenders never run out of creative ways to get into your wallets, devising hidden techniques of grabbing more of your money without jacking up the traditional income and sales taxes.
Look at Maryland. Maryland raised taxes by $1.4 billion in November. That apparently isn’t good enough. The state is looking at legalizing slot machines to fund health care.
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer wants to classify small cigars as cigarettes and "hard" lemonade and flavored alcohol beverages as liquor instead of beer. If that happens, all of those products will then bring in more revenue.
The AP reports, “More than a half-dozen states have a tax on narcotics and other controlled substances. Theoretically, a drug dealer in North Carolina can go to the state revenue office and get a tax stamp for $50 per gram for cocaine over 7 grams (the first 6 grams are tax-free). A moonshiner could get a stamp for $1.28 per gallon of mash. Then the dealer or the moonshiner can walk away. The law prohibits snitching on anyone who buys the stamps with proof he paid his debt to the tax department.”
Isn’t that special!!
History be damned in New Jersey where officials are considering allowing nonprofit corporations to operate toll roads. The agency could also raise money by putting solar panels on sound barriers, erecting windmills along the roadways and selling naming rights for rest stops.
What does that mean?
The New Jersey Turnpike rest stops now named for famous residents such as Thomas Edison, Walt Whitman and Red Cross founder Clara Barton could be renamed for corporations.
So why should you care what they do in Jersey or Indiana or Maryland or anywhere else?
There is a building full of lawmakers in Madison who do pay close attention to the actions of their colleagues in other states. Smoking bans, tax increases on alcohol, banning cell phones in cars, eliminating plastic bags in grocery stores, you name it. Legislator X hears about a tax increase in Nebraska and suddenly lights up, proclaiming it’s a marvelous idea, and before you know it, the bill is drafted and introduced. Unfortunately, the really good ideas being formulated in other states never seem to see the light of day in Badgerland.
Somehow, someway, legislators who still haven’t learned the Twist do find out about the newest and most creative ways to raise taxes.
That’s why you should care.