Parties disagree about how to meet goals for Wisconsin
It is the beginning of a new year and nearing the end of a legislative session. During the next few months, the Legislature will be busy tying up loose ends and making last attempts to pass a variety of legislation. All proposals—whether it is the Democrats’ plan to have the state take over the health care industry or the Republicans’ push for tax relief and job creation—will need to be wrapped up by mid-March.
The Democrats took back control of the Senate one year ago. Since then, Wisconsin taxpayers have been bombarded with $763 million of new and increased taxes as part of the biennial budget. With the new year upon us, you will now realize increased fees on cars, driver’s licenses and vital records, and a $1-per-pack increase for cigarettes, just to name a few.
To date, 1,029 bills have been introduced but only 45 have been signed into law. All things considered, a “do-nothing” Senate this session has probably been to the benefit of taxpayers.
Before the 2007-08 session closes, Senate Democrats have announced they will again attempt to advance their $15 billion-a-year health care tax plan, raise the recently increased minimum wage and enact a statewide smoking ban.
Senate Republicans, in turn, will work to pass a variety of legislation to attract new business, including educational tax credits for employees, business investment incentives, research opportunities, a capital gains reinvestment plan and tort reform. In regards to health care, our agenda will create nonrefundable income tax credits for contributions to health savings accounts, reform Medicaid and maintain our goal of more consumer-driven health care reform.
On a personal level, I am advancing my anti-bullying bill for all public schools, which has already passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Education, and working toward reauthorizing the innovative Green Tier Pilot Program, which was created under legislation I authored in 2003.
A current challenge before the Legislature is the Great Lakes Resources Compact. As the clock ticks down, legislators continue to seek a consensus on legislation to implement the compact here in Wisconsin.
With the end of the session nearing, I hope legislators of both parties can work together in a bipartisan fashion toward our mutual goal to make Wisconsin an economically competitive and affordable state to live and raise families. It might be difficult because Republicans and Democrats agree on the goals but have fundamentally different views on how to achieve these outcomes.
As always, should you have any questions about these bills, or any other state government issue, please feel free to contact my office at any time.
Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, represents Wisconsin’s 11th Senate District, which includes much of Walworth County and parts of Jefferson, Waukesha and Kenosha counties. Write to him at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882. Or call him in the district at (262) 742-2025 or reach him through a link at www.wisconsin.gov.