Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Doyle misleads Wisconsin taxpayers with budget

“I will be signing today the first honestly balanced budget in
two decades – without fancy accounting gimmicks, without taking
away people’s health care or abandoning our public schools, and –
as promised – without a tax increase.”  — Governor Jim Doyle
(Budget Signing Address, July 24, 2003)

What a joke. 

For the past several months, Wisconsinites
have eagerly anticipated a taxpayer’s budget- one that featured
fiscal restraint and allowed hard-working citizens to keep more of
their earnings.  Instead, Doyle thrust upon the state a budget
primarily beneficial to the local taxing authorities.


Several weeks ago, the Wisconsin Policy
Research Institute, a non-partisan organization, released a study
with two unsurprising conclusions.  It noted the extremely
high rates of taxation in Wisconsin.  On average, state and
local governments gobble up a whopping 12.9 percent of personal
income.   This figure does not include federal income or
payroll taxes. 

The study also concluded these high taxes
resulted from extremely high spending on aid to local governments
and K-12 education.  For example, spending on teacher and
administrator salaries and benefits exceeds the national average by
more than 11 percent.

Recognizing this problem, the Legislature
reduced spending on aid to local governments and schools.  In
order to force schools and local governments to economize and
improve efficiency, the Legislature also approved a property tax

The Republican legislators who proposed this
idea included a provision which took economic development into
account.  Additionally, if schools and municipalities chose to
exceed their limit, they could do so by referendum.  Local
control of taxation was, for once, returned to the taxpayers.

Enter Gov. Doyle. 

On July 24, the Gov. vetoed this budget item,
along with many others.  “I will not let Madison politicians
make decisions about local property taxes that are best made by
local communities,” he said.  The Republican proposal was the
ultimate local control plan- elected local officials could cut
property taxes in their community, or, with voter approval, they
could raise them.  Apparently, Doyle supports local control,
as long as voters are denied participation in the process.

In his address, Doyle called on local
officials to hold the line on property taxes.  If Doyle thinks
he can wave a magic wand and make this happen, he is ignoring years
of history.  For years, state aid to local governments has
increased.  This year, many communities are facing deep cuts
in shared revenue.  Some localities in southeastern Wisconsin
are losing more than 20 percent of their state aid.

As a result of these cuts and Doyle’s property
tax freeze veto, local governments will, on average, likely
increase property taxes by 9 percent next year alone, the
non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates. 
Additionally, many local officials, recognizing that some form of a
property tax freeze will eventually become reality, will try to
implement swift increases before a cap constrains them.  The
Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s number does not even account for this

Doyle trusts local officials to never let this
happen.  However, the state taxpayers do not.  The freeze
has overwhelming support throughout the state, and was the primary
issue in a recent 21st Assembly District special
election in which Republican Mark Honadel trounced Democrat Al
Foeckler by a 61 to 39 percent margin.  This marked the first
time that a Republican won this seat since 1928. 

In the race, Foeckler told voters to trust
their local governments, citing his record of keeping taxes down as
an Oak Creek alderman.  However, voters were not fooled. 
They realized through bogus property assessments and hidden fees,
taxes continued to increase.  Most importantly, voters
realized the freeze, which Honadel strongly supported, was the only
way to hold property taxes down.

Many student activists have criticized the
budget for its impact on the UW System, but they fail to realize
that this tax issue is of equal or greater importance.  For
students who go to college seeking a degree and a career, a few
dollars in tuition savings is meaningless if they have little or no
hope of finding a job upon graduation.

For years, businesses have been leaving this
state in droves and taking thousands of jobs along with them. 
After all, it makes economic sense to choose a location where the
corporation and its employees can afford to live.

Doyle’s veto of the property tax freeze does
nothing to reverse this trend; it does quite the opposite.  If
this veto is sustained, the blame for these disastrous consequences
needs to be placed squarely where it belongs: on Governor Doyle and
on his Democratic accomplices in the state legislature.

Mark Baumgardner
[email protected])
is a senior
majoring in electrical engineering.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *