Rep. Bernier Tries to Get Cute (and Fails).

Phony Democratic Primary Candidates are apparently only the beginning, the GOP has now moved on to insincere revenue legislation.

First term Republican Representative Kathy Bernier is circulating phony legislation proposing an income tax check-off to fund shared revenue, medical assistance, and K-12 education.

You can read the bill here.

In the plea for co-sponsors Bernier explains her “thinking”:

Over the last few months, and years, we have heard certain portions of the population advocate for raising taxes as a means to fund these programs. This gives those people that feel they have the ability to pay more in taxes to do so without mandating that burden on those who cannot afford it.

Cute, huh?  Not.

At a listening session back in April, things got ugly for Bernier.  On that occasion and probably others,  people told Bernier to increase taxes (in April there were also loud complaints about corporate tax breaks).

Voluntary check-offs are not taxes.  Taxation involves legal obligations and the power to enforce those obligations.  For all the lovers of the US Constitution and the historically minded, one of the biggest reasons that the founding generation replaced the Articles of Confederation was because that document did not include the power to tax, only to ask for voluntary donations from the states.  The distinction is important.

While on the topic of distinctions that are lost on Rep. Bernier, the LRB lists “the endangered resources program. .. a veterans trust fund, prostate cancer research, multiple sclerosis programs, a fire fighters memorial, Second Harvest food banks, and a breast cancer research program, and to provide a donation to a professional football stadium district” as items that currently receive fund via check-offs.  As worthy as these might be, they are hardly the kind of Constitutionally mandated or essential programs as shared revenue, medical assistance, and K-12 education.

Rep. Bernier and her fellow partisans should stop playing games, stop trying to be cute and get to work on real revenue reform that includes real tax increases.  Penny for Kids would be a great start.  After that, there are plenty of ideas in the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future’s updated Catalog of Tax Reform Options for Wisconsin.  Not cute either, but what the state needs.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under "education finance", Accountability, education, finance, Gimme Some Truth, Local News, Pennies for Kids, School Finance, Scott Walker, Uncategorized

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