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Column: Tax-first crowd is wrong on budget shortfall

The ink has barely dried on a budget bill that raised taxes and fees hundreds of millions of dollars, and Democratic leadership in the Legislature and Gov. Jim Doyle are already supporting more taxes and spending to offset a new $655 million budget shortfall.

A national economic slowdown has led to budget shortfalls in most states, including Wisconsin. The tax-first crowd that controls the Senate and governor's office is proposing more borrowing and tax schemes. Now is not the time to take more money out of the pockets of working families struggling with mortgage payments, groceries bills, and increasing gas prices.

The budget repair proposal offered by the governor includes a new "sick tax" on hospitals. The .7 percent hospital tax would increase already escalating health care costs on patients in an effort to get more money from federal coffers.

The state's transportation fund is also again subject to a raid-and-borrow tactic of $293 million. This loan would lead to over $100 million in added debt costs for Wisconsin taxpayers. The segregated transportation fund, critical to our state's infrastructure and economic development, is being used as a piggy bank.

In 2005, the governor used the Frankenstein Veto to take $427 million from the fund and spend it elsewhere with no legislative approval! These raids increase taxpayers' burden and threaten our economic infrastructure.

Wisconsin state government needs to shrink, not grow. There are ways to reduce spending first. Public employee health care reform can save hundreds of millions of dollars. A real property tax freeze can increase home affordability. Reforming our shared revenue formula to not reward more spending can save tens of millions of dollars.

How do you think the state should address its new budget shortfall? Call me at (800) 862-1092 or e-mail me at Sen.Harsdorf.

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