April 28, 2006
Early this morning, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved a constitutional limit on state spending by a vote of 50-48. The measure would limit growth of the state government’s general fund – its single biggest account, to 90% of the average growth in personal income over the previous three years. Nine Republicans joined all 39 Democrats in voting against the amendment.
As approved by the Assembly, the limit would not apply to the transportation budget, which often includes the pet projects of legislators. Provisions in earlier versions of the so-called Taxpayer Protection Amendment limiting the compensation of local public employees were soundly rejected.
The constitutional amendment endorsed by the Assembly would:
- Limit future revenue in the state government’s general account to 90% of the average three-year growth in personal income statewide. Tax collections above that limit must go into an “emergency reserve fund.”
- If the balance in the emergency fund exceeds 6% of the general fund, the Legislature and governor must refund part of that surplus to taxpayers. Surplus amounts between 2% and 6% of the general fund may be refunded, if lawmakers and the governor agree on how to do it.
- Require voters to pass referendums exceeding the revenue limits.
- Prohibit transfers to and from the general fund from single-purpose accounts such as transportation and hunting, fishing and other wildlife and environmental funds.
The State Senate is planning on considering the amendment by the end of April.
WPPA members need to immediately contact their State Senate legislators and urge them to vote against the Taxpayer Protection Amendment. This measure would force budget cuts in funding programs such as shared revenue, which is used to fund a wide variety of local government services.
Members can contact their legislators by telephoning the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472. If members are not sure who their State Senators are, the hotline operators will provide you with that information. The operators will forward your message to the appropriate legislator, and can provide members with direct telephone numbers if requested.
In their messages to legislators, members should identify themselves, the name of their local association (e.g., the Oneida County Deputy Sheriffs Association), and urge their state senator to vote AGAINST the Taxpayer Protection Amendment.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact WPPA Assistant Executive Director Jim Palmer, either by telephone at 1-800-362-8838, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.