Vos hopes budget can bolster those who sacrificed to balance the books
After a contentious session and budget that saw a number of groups make sacrifices to help balance the state’s books, Robin Vos hopes to reward some of those same people.
That goes for state employees, too.
"If our revenues come back at the level where I hope they'll be, I want to make sure we put more money into schools where it's needed," Rep. Robin Vos tells WisPolitics.com. "I want to make sure that public employees who helped us by sacrificing over the past two years are given an opportunity for a raise."
The outgoing co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee said he wants to include taxpayers in that group, too, since Republicans "weren't able to repeal any of the tax increases that Governor Doyle and the Democrats imposed on the people of Wisconsin."
The Rochester Republican said he hopes to enact an "across-the-board income tax cut for everyone in Wisconsin" while targeting the middle class, which he says is particularly pinched by the state's current income tax structure.
Vos also said he wants to pass on second consideration a constitutional amendment banning transfers from the transportation fund, a practice that critics say hurts the state's ability to maintain and build new roads. He said the goal is to ease a deficit in the fund over the long term without jeopardizing projects he says are needed to bolster the economy.
Other priorities for the likely speaker include "a top-down review of the entire administration code in every section of state government" -- which would include empowering committee chairs to ask why particular agency rules are in place, whether they are needed and whether they can be altered to help foster job creation.
And Vos said a mining bill left on the table last session will pass this year, overcoming what he described as political opposition to a jobs bill.
"I think Senator Cullen means well, but I think he is being led by people who don't necessarily have the same goal in mind of creating a bill that will bring the company here," Vos said of the Janesville Democrat's efforts this summer to formulate new mining legislation.
Vos also said he believes some of the changes negotiated with Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, this spring could be included in the latest version, and that if the bill can be done in a bipartisan manner, "I'll be the first one to reach out my hand."
"But if the goal is nothing more than trying to create political cover, that's not going to work very well," Vos said.
Vos vows voter ID by 2014
Vos said Assembly Republicans will continue to pursue election reforms, vowing that "we are going to have voter ID in place before the 2014 election."
He said one way to go about putting the requirement in place -- it's currently enjoined as unconstitutional by Dane County judges in two separate cases pending in appeals court -- would be to pass a constitutional amendment.
That, however, would need passage in consecutive sessions and in a statewide referendum to take effect. Vos said Rep. David Craig, R-Vernon, was exploring the possibility of matching state law on judicial oversight with that used by federal courts -- specifically, the provision that rulings in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, for example, only affect that district until a higher court weighs in.
"I think that's something we should definitely explore for Wisconsin. If the citizens of Dane County want to elect liberal nutjobs to be on the court, they have every right to live under those rules," Vos said.
"But if I live in Racine County ... a single judge in Dane County shouldn't have an impact."
Vos also said he wants to look at the use of electronic documents for voter registration -- saying the Government Accountability Board "committed serious errors in my judgment" by enabling that practice.
Vos on elections: Voters like Republican direction in Wis.
Vos, who led the GOP Assembly election efforts, said Tuesday's results affirmed that Wisconsin voters like the direction Republicans are taking the state -- even though he says they picked the "wrong direction" for the country as a whole.
"The voting electorate seems a little bit schizophrenic, because I don't understand how you choose the most conservative U.S. senator -- Ron Johnson -- and now, arguably, somebody who is the farthest left," he said of Tammy Baldwin's Senate victory.
Vos, poised to take over for departing Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, returns to the Capitol as part of a 60-member Assembly GOP majority. That compares to just 39 Dem members, pending possible recounts.
He said those results -- combined with the Senate GOP's likely 18-15 majority and Gov. Scott Walker's recall election win in June -- solidified voters' confidence in Republicans following the 2010 wave that swept many of them into office.
"I think people said, 'We like the way you're doing things,'" Vos said.
Despite the party's continued upper hand in the Legislature, both Baldwin and President Obama won the state at the top of the ticket. Vos attributed Obama's win to his ability to spend his campaign warchest in just a handful of battleground states.
"He did a better job organizing and doing data mining to determine exactly who the people that he needed to turn out were," Vos said, arguing that Republicans fought against that tide down-ticket because they "are much better in the Legislature at doing retail politics and connecting one on one."
And he said Baldwin's victory was part of a pattern of Dems realizing "that if they talk like a Republican they can get elected, and if they govern like a Democrat people forget," charging that her campaign ran contrary to her previous votes on taxes, regulations and combating terrorism.
"On just the basic levels, Tammy Baldwin was deceptive in her advertising, and Wisconsin fell for it," Vos said.
Listen to the interview.