Friday, May 29, 2009

MORE Taxes for Wisconsinites

Thank a heap, Democrats of the legislature.
Doyle has said 500 to 1,000 inmates would be released over two years.

In other action:
Cigarette tax:The committee voted to raise the cigarette tax by 75 cents a pack, to $2.52, starting around Sept. 1.

Oil tax:Democrats agreed to impose a new tax on oil companies to help pay for roads. Oil companies would be barred from passing on the tax at the pump, but critics say that measure won't withstand a court challenge and drivers will end up paying the tax.

An effort to remove the tax failed 6-10, with Rep. Gary Sherman (D-Port Wing) and Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) joining the committee's four Republicans.

Income tax:The committee voted to raise the income tax rate to 7.75% for the richest 1% of Wisconsinites.

Earmarks: The committee signed off on $28 million in bonds for a School of Nursing facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

They also provided: $6.6 million for a Yahara River project in Dane County; $5 million for the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corp.; $4 million for planning a joint museum for the State Historical Society and Department of Veterans Affairs; up to $1.25 million for Manitowoc Road in Bellevue; $1.1 million for the AIDS Network and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin; up to $500,000 for Washington Street in Racine; $500,000 for an environmental center in a park that borders Madison and Monona; $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House; $500,000 for Eco Park in La Crosse; up to $430,000 for Highway X in Chippewa County; up to $400,000 for State St. in Racine; $250,000 for a bridge on S. Reid Road in Rock County; $250,000 for the Madison Children's Museum; $125,000 to remodel an Eau Claire library; $100,000 for Huron Road in Bellevue; $50,000 for a consortium of seven Dane County schools; $50,000 for the Chequamegon School District; $50,000 for an Eau Claire County shooting range; $50,000 for a playground in the Town of Beloit; $37,200 for the City of Stanley in Chippewa County; $25,000 for the Root River Education Center in Racine; and $20,000 for a pedestrian path in Rock County.

Driver's licenses: The committee adopted a provision that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. The licenses could be used for driving but not for other purposes. (Of course illegals should drive, what else can't they do here?)

Rep. Pedro Colón (D-Milwaukee) said it would reduce the number of unlicensed drivers on the road and released letters from law enforcement officials backing the idea because they would know more about drivers they stop.

"If you can't ID them, you can't assess how dangerous they are," Colon said. "You spend . . . hours on a traffic stop that yields nothing but a broken traffic light."

The cards would have a unique design to distinguish them from other licenses. They would say in bold lettering that they could not be used for purposes other than for driving.

But Republicans said they thought the provision would make it easier for illegal immigrants to get government services and commit voter fraud.

"There's a whole lot of clerks who take that driver's license as verbatim that someone is here legally" and can register to vote, Vos said.

License plates: The committee decided to keep in place a requirement that vehicles display two license plates and that drivers get registration stickers to put on their plates every year. Doyle wanted to eliminate the stickers and allow just one plate to save money. (Save money? How ridiculous!)

W-2:The committee agreed to overhaul Wisconsin Works, the state's welfare-to-work program. Among other changes, the committee approved eliminating a program that reduces parents' benefits if their children aren't attending school.

Debt:The state would delay $285 million in payments, helping the budget immediately but increasing long-term interest costs, under the committee's plan.

Tax credits:Democrats put off scheduled tax breaks for health insurance premiums and child care, having them take effect in 2011 instead of this year. (I'm sure they can delay this again.)

QEO: The committee voted to eliminate, in July 2010, the qualified economic offer used to settle labor contracts and restrict teacher compensation. Teachers have long argued the policy has kept their salaries lower than their counterparts in other states, while others say the QEO helps keep local property taxes in check. (Of course, in the pocket of WEAC.)

Hospital tax:The committee agreed to increase an assessment on hospitals and expand it to ambulatory surgery centers. Because the tax increases the state's Medicaid budget, it draws more federal aid, which helps the hospitals and goes toward balancing the state's budget. (WI NEEDS MORE AID FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - OBAMA, BRING IT HERE!)

Health insurance:Health insurance plans would have to cover treatment of autism, mental disorders, alcoholism and drug dependency under the committee's action.

Auto insurance:The committee recommended increasing the minimum amount of car insurance people would have to buy. People would still have the option to drive without insurance, but if they did buy it, they would have to purchase more coverage than they do now.

Rest stops:The committee voted to allow the Department of Transportation to sign agreements with restaurants and other businesses to build facilities at six rest stops along state highways. Lease payments would be used to help pay for road repairs.
Parentheses mine.

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