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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Your local taxing officials really don't care


The following blog has the dullest opening in the history of the Internet, but is relevant and significant nonetheless and will become quite apparent as you read along and you know you will.

According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), “Municipal operating expenditures in Wisconsin’s 237 largest cities and villages increased an average of 3.7% per year for the five years ending in 2008.”

That’s it? No jail photos of Lindsay Lohan? No close-ups of her fingernails? No Wisconsin candidate for higher office using the words “bitch” and “ho?”

No. I’m afraid not.

However, let’s talk about an issue just a bit more important than the food Lohan ate while incarcerated…..your pocketbook.

That 3.7% figure cited by WISTAX might seem small and insignificant. Keep in mind it’s an average. The trend is that locals, your counties, cities, towns, and villages keep spending and spending and spending and spending and spending.

They will hide behind their notorious and tired old whine that the big, bad, state of Wisconsin simply doesn’t give enough assistance. This is especially true of local school boards. At budget time, school board members, not a single one of them truly fiscally conservative, will stand up in their best Oscar performance, tears rolling down their cheeks, and proclaim that they hate what they are about to approve, but they must for the children, and that they have no other alternative but to increase the property tax levy. That, of course, is baloney. Forget all those phony speeches, door-to-door promises, pamphlets and brochures that got them elected.

Like an Easter ham and a Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas presents under the tree, jacking up taxes and spending is tradition for county, city, town and village officials. It’s like a disease. They simply can’t help themselves. It’s all they’ve ever known. Suggest another course of action? That might cause cardiac arrests. All they’ve ever done is vote yes to send taxes skyward. The only question is by how much.

At the risk of being simplistic, let me assert, and I’ve worked in government for some time so I ought to know, that the public sector does not operate like a business. Hell, it doesn’t even come close to operating like your household.

America, and that includes Tax Hell USA, aka Wisconsin has been wrapped firmly in the grips of a long, brutal recession. How has Washington responded? Spend, spend spend. Hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars… jobs in return.

How has the state of Wisconsin with Democrats in control responded? Spend almost 10% more in the last state budget and create a bunch of new programs that normally have warm fuzzy names like BadgerCare, only to find ourselves $2.5 BILLION in the hole.

How have the locals at your town, village, or city hall responded? With people sitting at home having been handed pink slips? They jack up taxes and spending. Why?

1) Because they can.

2) Because that’s the only “solution” they know.

3) Because they don’t care.

4) Because you will re-elect them anyway.

Oooooooohh. That last one hurt. Sometimes the truth does.

OK, property taxpayers. The last couple of years, be honest. How did you respond to the economy that found itself sharing company with the Tidy-Bowl man? Did you:

A) Run out and buy a new car?

B) Book a trip to the Bahamas?

C) Put in a glamorous new rec room in the basement?

D) Have a family discussion and resolve that certain frills and luxuries needed to be cut back until things turned around?

I think I know your response.

You probably cut back on expenditures and have survived. Government could, too, but refuses.

Government officials with taxing authority will use that power because they can. Very recently, I asked a local official to endorse a property tax freeze. After all, if hard-working families have cut back and are getting by, why can’t City Hall.

Are you ready for the weak-kneed response?

No can do, baby!

Property tax freeze?

Here’s what I was told:

“Which politician that ever proposed a tax freeze actually carried it out? – it’s just rhetoric and playing politics.”

Translation: I don’t support such an idea and I dismiss it outright. Won’t even think about it.

That’s very revealing. Why? Because moms and dads all across Wisconsin have done what many officials with taxing authority would consider unthinkable: they have cut back on their expenses. Would it be too crazy to think taxpayers spent this year what they spent last year, in effect a spending freeze? I certainly don’t think so. But suggest that at a budget meeting? Suddenly it’s Armageddon. Blood will flow down the streets. People will die. Life as we know it will end.

So while the locals won’t even fathom the thought of a freeze, can you imagine tax/spending cuts? OH MY GOD, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

The big, bad state of Wisconsin is a villain, having increased spending by close to 10% in the current state budget and increasing taxes and fees by over $3 billion. Let’s not forget those directly capable of jacking up your local property taxes: your mayors, your village presidents, your aldermen, your county supervisors, especially your school board members.

This December, your taxes will go up again. While you are deciding whether it’s a brat or an Italian on the grill this summer, your local officials are already calculating how much more they will take from you. Again, they will do it because they can, and they don’t care.

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