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.
The Franklin Common Council holds a public hearing tonight and then takes action on the city budget. As the budget process starts to wind down, I have some thoughts.
1) Congratulations to Mayor Tom Taylor for signing a pledge to keep the city property tax levy increase to a maximum of 3%. He took the pledge and then kept it.
2) At a well-documented meeting months ago, Franklin blogger Fred Keller, Franklin resident Scott Thinnes and I asked Franklin aldermen Steve Olson and Lyle Sohns to take the same pledge as Mayor Taylor. They declined. Sohns condescendingly (and I would say angrily) told me over and over that there was “no way” Franklin could keep the budget to a 3% increase. Gee, I guess he was wrong.
3) Olson and Sohns did say months ago they would work to budget responsibly and have made attempts as of late to cut the budget even more.
4) Franklin Common Council President Steve Taylor reminded us today on Janet Evans’ blog that he campaigned “to control city spending.” That’s good. That’s very good. But then for the rest of his message, he criticizes colleagues Olson and Sohns for their efforts to……..control city spending! Ironic, to say the least. Olson and Sohns should be commended, not blasted. The more that want to "control city spending," the better.
5) Alderman Taylor (remember, he ran on controlling city spending) is requesting that “$15,000 be put into the Capital Improvement Fund in order to have a study done on a tornado warning siren system.” Sorry, but that’s not a good idea. We don’t have to spend a penny on any study. How’s that for controlling city spending. If the budget gets approved with the study, here’s hoping Mayor Taylor vetoes it out.
6) I could be wrong but my alderman, Kristin Wilhelm didn’t offer any ideas on how to trim the budget or control city spending. I know she was apoplectic at the thought she might lose her city taxpayer-funded monthly stipend. But, and again, I could be wrong, I didn’t hear her suggest any budget cost-saving measures. If I’m mistaken, I’m sure Kristin will call me.
7) My prediction: The city budget gets adopted tonight on a vote of 4-2. All in all, for once, this has been an exercise where the taxpayer wins with a budget that truly holds the line on spending. Could the budget have been chopped some more? Probably. But we’re on the right track, and we’ll survive. Franklin won’t be “destroyed.”
That 3% pledge, initiated by Fred Keller, served as the stimulus for campaign discussion, and then action that resulted in some tough decisions, but overall, a victory for Franklin taxpayers who’ve paid enough for a long, long time.
UPDATE on 11/4/08
John McCain is a decent, honest, principled man who has served his country with courage, strength and valor. He is eminently qualified to be President of the United States.
His opponent hasn’t even served a fraction of the time McCain has in the U.S. Senate, and can’t point to one significant piece of legislation he’s engineered. In the Illinois Legislature, Barack Obama’s greatest accomplishment, at least numerically, was voting “present” well over 100 times. The two candidates are worlds apart when it comes to real life experience.
Obama has held a huge advantage over McCain for practically the entire campaign. Obama has been the recipient of an adoring, anything but objective press. Hillary Clinton, it turns out, was 100% accurate when she asserted that the news media didn’t vet Obama, giving him one colossal free pass. The most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, more left wing than Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer, rarely had his dubious record called into question by the mainstream media cheerleaders.
Historically vocal opponents of extravagant sums of campaign cash, liberal Democrats who for the longest time worshipped at the altar of McCain-Feingold, didn’t blink an eye as the obscene amounts of campaign contributions poured in to the Obama coffers. Republican money: BAD. Obama money: GOOD.
Obama has outspent McCain by a gazillion to one. His message, proliferated by his pals at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, et al, and campaign ads are omnipresent.
Obama and the Democrats paid large amounts of cash to groups like ACORN to go out and register voters, and they’ve done just that, falsifying an exorbitant amount of voter registration drive information that will assuredly result in fraudulent voting activity.
Polls run by organizations that skew to the left, have consistently shown Obama in the lead, even though Republicans don’t cooperate in polls. The positive polls, day after day, month after month have essentially been free commercials for the Obama campaign.
Attacks by the press on McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, have been personal and vicious. Obama and Joe Biden have gone virtually unscathed.
Despite it all, The One, the Messiah, the greatest, most intelligent, most phenomenal candidate, the most revered individual to ever run for the White House has failed to seal the deal, and just days before Election Day, John McCain is still in it. His task is clearly difficult, but not insurmountable.
Why isn’t Obama running away with it? The American public, in the last week or two where polls are tightening, sees Obama as a fine orator. They must admit Obama speaks well (So did Bill Clinton, by the way). And there’s some intrigue about a minority finally becoming President.
But the more the public listens, the more it pays attention in the nitty gritty final days of a long campaign, the more they see Obama as a very extreme candidate, the most dangerous presidential choice ever, whether it be on taxes, redistribution of wealth, national security, energy, or abortion. Obama goes into prevent defense, planning a huge victory party and picking his Cabinet, going against the sage advice of Kenny Rogers: “You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.” And thus, the polls tighten.
If the polls mean anything, and they’ve been wrong a lot (just like the 2008 pundits), they show Obama with a plurality, but certainly not a majority of voters, that elusive 50%.
John McCain, on the other hand, has been pummeled by other Republicans, even friends who have questioned his campaign decisions. Red meat conservatives didn’t like his nomination and many may still not. For them, the maverick wasn’t their first, second, or possibly not even their third choice. And yet, here he is, possibly just days away from being elected President.
John McCain, of course, is still in the race. What’s that over-used expression? It’s not over till it’s over. And it’s in spite of everything I’ve mentioned. But it’s because of all that I’ve mentioned that John McCain will not be victorious Tuesday.
A blatantly liberal mainstream media that goes about its business with no shame whatsoever.
A press that won’t heavily scrutinize Obama.
More money than God.
Voting shenanigans, and yes, there will be plenty on Election Day and not on behalf of the GOP.
Add it all up and it’s too much for even a decent man of tremendous character to overcome.
Republicans were beat January through August. Then something magical happened. McCain picked Sarah Palin. Partisan Democrats and pompous, boorish, elitist Republicans can rip Plain all they want, but until she was chosen, Republicans were hopelessly defeated, void of life. Palin was the injection the GOP needed. She energized the party and voters across America. Suddenly, Democrats were worried and started to stumble. It appeared momentum, for the first time in this laborious campaign, was on the side of the elephants.
Then came mid-September, when John McCain lost this election. For weeks, all the talk in the press and across the nation focused on the economy, typically a Republican issue, except when the economy is in the tank and a Republican is in the White House. All American heard for weeks was that the economy was about to crumble so badly that we were about to witness the Depression of all Depression’s. The GOP’s August soufflé dropped in September. There was some life restored when Obama showed his true Socialist colors talking with Joe the Plumber and when Joe Biden said electing Obama would result in international chaos before next summer. But when the press is your security blanket, you can withstand such temporary annoyances that would have legs reaching two weeks if it were the GOP.
America is about to make a deadly mistake on Election Day. Your wallets aren’t safe. Our tax system isn’t safe. No unborn child is safe. Babies that survive abortions aren’t safe. American isn’t safe from terrorists who at this very moment are praying that Obama wins.
I will be proud to vote for a truly great American, John McCain on Election Day. It will be very close, closer than what the experts who have been wrong all year predict. But I believe the American electorate isn’t quite sharp enough to discern the catastrophe they’re asking for when it elects Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.
I’ve written several blogs about the sales tax increase referendum (The vote is NO) on Milwaukee County ballots November 4th. Milwaukee County Board members approved the advisory referendum and were able to thwart a veto by one if the few sane voices inside the Milwaukee County Courthouse, County Executive Scott Walker. And so, we have this foolish sales tax increase question (The vote is NO) on the ballot Tuesday.
When I wrote in early September on this topic, I got a response from Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik. I never responded………until now. Jursik is part of a major problem on the clueless, tax and spend Milwaukee County Board. Here is her comment on my blog from two months ago, in its entirety, unedited, just the way she wrote it, with my responses in red.
You leave so many important issues out I needed to clarify:
Yes, please do, Supervisor. You are so much smarter than me or the average voter. Explain it to me.
Our transit system is in crisis (Public Policy Research forum, an independent organization) our parks are in crisis (over $300 M of deferred maintenance, even basics such as bathrooms don't work); the paramedic program in Milw. Co. is paid by the county so cities can share this service(consolidation)is in jeopardy of being cancelled (should cities put this in their tax levy?).
Typical scare tactic ploy by the tax and spend crowd. The sky is falling and the only solution is a huge tax increase.
The referendum asks if the voters wants to restructure our current system of paying for these services by taking these three areas off the property tax levy and instead pay for them through a 1% sales tax.
“Restructure?” Don’t try to snow the taxpayers. The referendum asks if taxpayers want to TRIPLE the sales tax.
Milwaukee is the ONLY city that still pays for transit with property tax levy while all other cities pay through a sales tax;
I don’t care what other cities do. Should we emulate what Chicago does? They’ve got one of the highest sales taxes in the country, Supervisor.
Wisconsin has one of the highest property tax rates and yet one of the lowest sales taxes in the country.
Our sales tax is low. Hello!!! That’s a GOOD THING! What the hell kind of argument is that? One of our taxes is too low, It needs to be raised????
What do we get by shifting this burden to sales tax?
“Shifting the burden.” Another smokescreen for “tax increase.”
First participation of users from out-of-county who use our transit and parks (think Harley Fest).
Uhhh, really dumb, Supervisor. The out-of-county visitors to Harley Fest aren’t using public transit……………they’re using their own Harley’s.
Secondly, real property tax relief: the owner of a $150,000. home saves $165 in tax levy, and more importantly it reduces the tax base in Milwaukee County so that the 2% limit on tax levy will actually reduce taxes.
Oooohh, I LOVE THIS ONE! Our property taxes will go down if only we just walk into that voting booth and make the utterly stupid decision to TRIPLE our sales tax. History says otherwise. Sorry, Supervisor to combat your tax and spend hysteria with some real, honest to goodness facts.
July 2007: The Milwaukee County Board, claiming Milwaukee County needs more revenue to save the parks and transit, approves an advisory referendum calling for a one-cent increase in the sales tax. It would bring in $120 million; thus, it’s a $120- million tax increase.
1991: The Milwaukee County Board approves a .5% sales tax increase, promising it will reduce property taxes and help fund the parks, the exact promise we’re hearing today.
So what happened?
1992-2002: Following the sales tax increase, property taxes went up 55%.
1992-2002: Following the sales tax increase, tax levy support for the parks dropped. In 1980, tax levy support for the parks was 45% of the county budget. By 2000, it had dropped below 10%. (Note: Scott Walker was NOT the County Executive then. Sorry to disappoint Walker critics).
Since 1/3 of our sales taxes are collected by visitors who are out-of-county residents, amenities like the zoo which has visitors oof ver 60% from out of county while our tax payers continue to pay the burden of these services. I haven't said much about transit, but the county has not replaced buses (instead using federal funds earmarked for replacement) for operating costs for about 5 years. In 2010 we are looking at a 10 to 12 million deficit in transit. Are we willing to be a county without mass transit? Or do we put all of this cost on the property levy, if so, we can forgo this referendum. Don't forget the cost of unemployment will have its own ramifications (nearly 50% of bus users travel for employment purposes). I have studied this referendum carefully and think any Milw. county voter who also does so will vote YES.
Targeted tax increases never go where they’re intended.
Where will any additional sales tax revenue go?
To parks? No.
To transit? No.
To pensions? Yes.
To health care benefits for county workers? Yes.
Future County Boards will not be required to use any sales tax revenue for parks or transit. Do you really trust this County Board to spend the money the way they say they would?
Let’s analyze in simple terms what the public seems to understand but some tax and spend-happy County Board members don’t.
The current Milwaukee County sales tax is:
The resolution calling for a referendum asks Milwaukee County voters to increase the sales tax by:
That would bring the Milwaukee County sales tax to:
Do the math: 1.5% as opposed to the current .5%.
That is a TRIPLING of the current sales tax.
Milwaukee County Board members want to TRIPLE your county sales tax and they think you’re stupid enough to go to the polls and willingly make the choice to TRIPLE your county share of the sales tax. This would be on top, don’t forget, of the state sales tax and the Miller Park sales tax.
These county supervisors apparently believe that our taxes in these parts just aren’t high enough and need to be raised even more, and not by just a little bit, but instead they need to be……
You also know you’re living in a tax hell when you have some yahoo’s who are downright giddy at the possibility that their county sales tax might be……….