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.
In a development that could only take place in the blogosphere, both Franklin mayoral candidates have been challenged to sign a pledge to vote against tax increases that go beyond the rate of inflation.
Franklin’s high level of taxing and spending well above the rate of inflation has been a key campaign issue.
Franklin blogger Fred Keller issued the challenge to Mayor Tom Taylor and opponent Basil Ryan on Wednesday, one day after the candidates’ guest blogs were posted on This Just In…
Keller posted the following on my blog Wednesday:
I have one question for both Mayor Taylor and Mr. Ryan:
I turned in this question at the Candidates Forum the other night, but it wasn't asked.
Would you be willing to sign a pledge – TODAY – stating, if (re-)elected, you would vote against a City Budget, in each year of your three-year term, that included a TAX LEVY that is greater than the latest available Consumer Price Index data, published by the U.S. Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics?
I would appreciate a yes or no answer. And If not, why not?
A few hours after Keller’s challenge on Wednesday, I received a personal e-mail from Mayor Taylor that said, in part:
“I would need to see the language in the pledge but if it is specific to the CPI average for the Milwaukee Racine Area I would have little or no problem with such a pledge and I would not vote for a budget that exceeded the CPI average.”
Taylor told me in the e-mail there had to be agreement on the data and source of data used for the pledge, and then he would like to see the pledge before making a commitment.
That was Wednesday.
It is my understanding that the mayor and Keller have been in communication with one another.
On Friday night at 10:52, I received the following communication from Basil Ryan that I have posted in the comments section of the mayoral blogs entry:
My answer to you and Mr. Keller is as follows: Yes, I will sign the pledge.
In fact, such a pledge is nothing new to me; it represents the essence of my work as alderman.
When I was an alderman and sat on the Finance Committee, we made it clear to department heads that their budgets had to stay within the cost of living increases. The fact that the city was growing in leaps and bounds and additional money was coming in, and additional tax money was coming in, I sent a clear message to my colleagues on the Finance Committee that this temptation was not to be used as an excuse to request budget increases.
My philosophy was that if department heads operated their departments within the cost of living, new growth would be able to sustain those demands and thus allow the city to place the difference in contingency funds which could be used for projects to better Franklin, thus eliminating an additional burden on the taxpayers.
That philosophy worked well. I was able to get the largest tax reduction through the Finance Committee. One of my pieces of campaign literature talks about how I was able to freeze a 1.8% increase that was above and beyond the cost of living at that time. The reason I bring up this point is that many people will pledge things just to get votes. In my case, I did exactly what you are asking. Part of my plan to balance the city budget is to bring back that practice. It worked in the past and it will work in the future.
So, yes, I will sign the pledge.
I understand the candidates are quite busy in the final days of campaigning. I suspect we’ll hear definitively from Mayor Taylor soon. Keep checking my blog for updates.
Keller posed the same challenge to the candidates in his aldermanic district, Ald. Alan Hammelman and opponent Kristen Wilhelm. You can see their responses in the comments section here.