In this Week's Update:
Bad Ideas Abound in Madison
Rep. Vos to Appear on Up Front with Mike Gousha Sunday
This week was a vivid reminder of just how many bad ideas there are floating around Madison. On Thursday, theAssembly Transportation Committee heard a variety of transit bills, including the one to create a SoutheastRegional Transit Authority (SERTA) that would be the governing body of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM)commuter rail line.
The bill proposes raising the sales tax, instituting room taxes, car rental taxes or wheel taxes (or a combination of all of them) to fund the train. However, it has taken the Democrats in both houses more than a year to come up with any sort of draft that might be palatable to all interests, and now it looks as though they still can't find agreement. The Racine Post recently posted an insider account of the inner-party strife occurring over this bill. Basically, some Democrats are afraid to vote for tax increases while others, including Governor Doyle, are hell-bent to get a shiny new train regardless of the cost.
However, they would all be wise to take heed of a new survey released today that shows that a majority of the people in southeastern Wisconsin are adamantly opposed to paying higher taxes for transit, even if it results in a direct reduction from the property tax. (Click here to read my press release on the new survey results).
This survey only proves what I've been hearing from my constituents for years. I'm hopeful that the people who continue to cry that commuter rail is necessary because it creates jobs will finally put their arguments to rest and realize that they can't pull the wool over the eyes of the general public who know this is nothing but a taxpayer-funded, unsustainable boondoggle.
Another reminder of bad ideas run amok were the 19 committee hearings held this week that heard a myriad of bills - almost none of which addressed job creation. This despite the report released yesterday by the Department of Labor showing only 6 states have experienced greater job loss than Wisconsin and that we're one of only a dozen states that have fewer people working today than at any time in the 1990s. The Department of Labor also reports Wisconsin has lost 71,700 jobs between December 2009 and January 2010.
Finally, I was reminded of a very old bad idea when a Democratic senator admitted this week that she was wrong in voting for a budget that hiked car insurance rates by as much as 33% in some cases. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) introduced a bill to repeal those insurance increases and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) joined her in her fight by coauthoring the legislation.
Even though more comprehensive repeals had previously been proposed by Republicans and not supported by Sen. Vinehout, I'm happy she came to her senses and to the side of her constituents, who I'm sure were vocal in their opposition to these increases. But I fear the special interests and trial lawyers who benefit from these insurance rate hikes will be too powerful for any of the Democrats to help Sen. Vinehout in her attempt to repeal these provisions. My prediction is the bill never makes it out of committee and we continue to suffer the consequences by paying much higher auto insurance premiums.
Thankfully the legislative session is almost over. Once it is, legislative business will be halted and so will all the bad ideas that are currently floating around this building - at least for a few months. But it's my ultimate hope that the results of the next election will halt the bad idea machine for a long, long time to come.
Rep. Vos to Appear on Up Front with Mike Gousha
Tune into WISN Sunday at 9am to watch Up Front with Mike Gousha. The topic is the high speed rail no-bid contract executed by Governor Doyle for a $48 million train set from Spanish company Talgo. No other company was allowed to submit a bid for the job, and it's possible the deal could have resulted in a net loss of jobs to the state because Super Steel of Milwaukee was not awarded a subcontract. They announced last week they are in receivership. I will appear opposite Department of Transportation chief counsel, Bob Jambois.
This week, I joined my Republican colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee in submitting a request to the Committee's co-chairs for an informational hearing on the deal
State Representative Robin Vos State Capitol - Room 321 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison, Wisconsin 53708 Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663 Email: Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov On the Internet: Representative Vos' Web Site