Monday, January 23, 2006

Christmas is Over, So Why is Scrooge Still Here?

In his state of the state address last week, Gov. Doyle proposed a very forward thinking cutting edge agenda, that actually helps average citizens. One proposal is expanding a program in which the state helps people with their heating bills. At a time when heating bills are at record highs and people are struggling, this particular plan could be popular with regular working folks. Last week the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau revealed that there may be $93 million more in tax collections than anticipated. The Governor’s heating assistance proposal would only account for $6 million of that extra money.

It seems like a no-brainer. So why is Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) being a scrooge so long after Christmas? The Appleton Post-Crescent reported over the weekend that he thinks that the money should go somewhere else.

Congressman Mark Green is also joining the scrooge chorus of “we can’t afford it.” As Carrie Lynch points out on the What’s Left blog, Green and the Republican controlled Congress have no business lecturing anyone on fiscal conservatism. They have outspent any Congress in history.

Rep. Mark Pocan debunks the Republicans claims that Doyle’s plans will cost too much, saying the following on his blog last week (January 18th post):
The one universal Republican beef was the “cost” of the new programs. Well, the cost in this budget cycle is about $6 to $15 million out of a $54 billion budget, less than 1/3 of one percent.Given that Governor Doyle has erased a $3.2 billion deficit, the reality is that $15 million is a piece of cake for the Governor to find in savings and other areas without raising taxes one dime.And to the Republicans who whine about the costs, what about the good chunk of Republican bills you’ve passed that cost a bunch. To name a few (costs generally in this budget cycle only, with more costs in future): Education Tax Credit $9.3 million ($20.6 million per year thereafter), Research Tax Credit for Engines $1.1 million (more than twice that in future years), and Mandatory 25 Year Sentence for Child Sex Offenders $11.7 million in first two years (Up to $632 million by year 25!).Just remember, people care a whole lot more about paying for heating costs, healthcare and education than they do getting a tax credit for engine research. Wait, they won't get that credit anyway, only your corporate masters will.

It seems clear that Ellis, Green and the rest are more concerned about the political implications of what would be a popular Doyle program. They should put politics aside and do what is best for the public. I know that I would appreciate the help this winter.

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