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 young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Democrats who run the Legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee voted after 2:00 in the morning the other day to give an unelected board without accountability the power to increase your sales taxes.
Following a narrow victory in last November's Milwaukee County sales tax referendum, liberal members of the Milwaukee County Board aren't just lobbying Democrats in the Legislature to vote for the hike. They're DEMANDING it. When they're not flat out dictating, the supervisors are pleading, using every Armageddon scenario in their playbook they can.
The Legislature and the governor must approve the sales tax supported by Milwaukee County voters last November. Governor Doyle is the easy sell. He will tax anything that's not nailed down. He will tax anything that is nailed down. The Legislature, even though controlled by Democrats, might not be quite such a done deal.
I've been at a few meetings where the county folks sit on side of the room and the Milwaukee legislative delegation sits on the other. You hear all kinds of scary words from the county supervisors describing the oultook for parks and transit if the sales tax isn't enacted, words like deteriorate, crumble, disappear, decimated. devastated.
When state Representative Josh Zepnick (D-MIlwaukee) attempts to explain to the Lee Holoway's and Jon Weishan's of the world that this isn't the Milwaukee County Corthouse, that it's an entirely different dynamic, he gets ridiculed.
Are all Democrats in the Legislature gung ho about sales tax increases? There was a glimmer of hope this week for the vast majority of Wisconsinites who believe we're Taxed Enough Already. State Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said he could not support the sales tax increase approved by voters last November. Even State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) joined the Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee during that post-2:00 a.m. vote to oppose the Milwaukee County sales tax increase.
I'm not surprised that Milwaukee County supervisors are acting as though the Apocalypse is on the horizon. They fail to understand that while the sales tax referendum did pass last November, there is no mandate, not even close. And in the tax hell that is Wisconsin, with the governor's proposed budget increasing taxes and fees by $1,707,734,400, Democrats will have to go home and try to explain why, in this economy with pink slips flying and jobs leaving, they supported taking more money out of taxpayers' wallets.
The sales tax referendum was approved but not by much last November:
208,132: YES (51.97 %)
192,390: NO (48.03%)
That's hardly a resounding cry for a tax increase.
The sales tax referendum was rejected in every single ward in the following communities:
Voters in Wauwatosa and West Allis also rejected the sales tax increase.
The sales tax referendum was approved in the city of Milwaukee by 36, 262 votes, in Shorewood by 990 votes, and in West Milwaukee by 38 votes.
I repeat. There is no mandate to increase the Milwaukee County sales tax by 1%.
And seriously think about what that means. The Milwaukee County sales tax would be TRIPLED, that’s right, TRIPLED, from 0.5% to 1.5%. The county's sales tax, remember is tacked on to the state's 5% sales tax and the 0.1% Miller Park tax.
Finally, don't believe any of this mullarkey that the world will end and our transit and parks systems will go to hell in handbasket if we don't jack up the sales tax. That argument has been around for decades. It's simply not true. Don't fall for the scare tactics being employed by the big tax and spenders.