There’s nothing easier than imposing limits on someone else that you won’t apply to yourself. A recent report from the highly respected and non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance highlighted the fact that the people who control Wisconsin’s state government are forcing local government to operate under revenue restrictions that they don’t apply to themselves.
Municipalities and counties, the ones we trust when work needs to be done locally, are actually taking in less than they were six years ago. Over the same six years, under Governor Walker’s budgets, state revenues have grown over 20%. While local officials have struggled to do more with less, state revenues have increased by 2.8 billion dollars.
We know who we can count on to get the real work done. If we need roads plowed, our streets policed – we rely on ourselves and our neighbors. Under Republican leadership, Madison keeps making it harder for your local elected officials to do the jobs that you elected them to do. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, GOP lawmakers have passed 128 measures limiting local control since 2011.
Municipalities and Counties get less state aid if they don’t hold their spending down. And the state imposes revenue a cap on our successful but struggling public schools – a cap that does not apply to state government spending.
We hear over and over again that the state needs to impose these limits on local elected officials to hold the line on property taxes. But the truth is that the Governor and Republican leadership in the legislature are saying one thing and doing another. They don’t want local elected officials raising property taxes, but they’re more than happy to make decisions that end up increasing property taxes. Wisconsin schools had to go to referendum 156 times last year alone to make up for steep cuts in state aid.
Over the course of the last 3 state budgets, state aid coming home to our public schools has gone down by $90 per student. And property taxes have gone up by $91. As one of my GOP colleagues admitted in a recently circulated memo, “This continual loss of state aid is passed on to our local property taxpayers who are already picking up a substantial share of their local school district budget.”
Tech Colleges and our 2 year UW Campuses are still reeling from the cuts imposed by Madison. Our roads and bridges are deteriorating. The Governor and his Republican colleagues like to talk about rewarding work, local control, and fiscal responsibility. Their actions speak louder than their words. People who work for a living are not getting the tax breaks the legislature keeps passing. And those breaks mean even less coming back home to our communities.
You and the people you’ve chosen to run your towns, villages and schools know what you need better than the Republican politicians who control Madison. It’s time they stopped treating you as if you were teenagers. And it’s time for them to start living up to the standards that they say they believe in.