29 November 2007

Glenn Grothman: getting a bigger raise this year.

Hi folks,

Okay, what I mean is, Glenn is getting a bigger raise this year than I am. Our raises went through the joint committee last week. I'm going to get about 5% this year spread out over the next 7 months -- which is darned nice and nearly catches me (and my several thousand colleagues) up with cost of living increases over the last few years. Nearly. Even though they keep cutting our health benefits. Still, it turns out that we're the low Bubba's on the state totem pole:

From the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:

Pay raises are on the way for elected state officials, and it didn't require a vote of the full Legislature or the governor's signature. Raises of 6.3% for legislators and 7.4% for the governor were approved unanimously by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Employment Relations, and that committee's OK is all that's required to hike salaries.

Judging from the latest polling by the St. Norbert College Survey Center, the public doesn't think state politicians deserve a raise. The number of state residents who disapprove of the Legislature's job performance increased by an eye-popping 18% just since the spring of this year.

That means Glenn and his colleagues believe he's worth 1.3% a year more to the state than I am. The Gov is worth 2.4% a year more.

Tricky call.


27 November 2007

Glenn Grothman: wrong for worrying about the trees

In order to avoid thinking about the forest.

Hi folks,

The Senate Committee on Education held hearings this week on Senate Joint Resolution 27, an effort to start thinking about ways to fund education that would be more efficient than the property tax burden we're currently carrying.

John Smart, writing in the Capital Times, notes:

The purpose of the hearing was to examine Senate Joint Resolution 27, co-sponsored by Assembly Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Verona, Sen. Roger Breske, D-Eland, 14 other senators and 43 other Assembly representatives. All but one of the people testifying supported the resolution.

The resolution calls for the Legislature to recognize that the system we're using to pay for our schools is not fair and equitable and simply does not work -- that it underfunds our schools while throwing too much of the burden on the backs of property taxpayers, who are understandably rebelling. The resolution refers to a number of new funding formulas that all deserve consideration, and it sets a deadline for the Legislature to examine these, and any others, and pass a new compromise plan for school funding by July 1, 2009.

Several members of the committee, notably Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, insisted on attempting to debate the merits of one or another of the plans, asking how much they would cost and where the money was going to come from. They had to be reminded repeatedly that this resolution only sets a deadline and doesn't endorse any specific plan.

I'm not surprised that Glenn wanted to debate the merits of plans that don't exist yet and which weren't included in the resolution. When you don't want to think about a serious problem -- especially when you're in the political minority -- you pick away at the edges, like sparrows picking around under a bird feeder. Arguing about irrelevant details, while the main issue -- finding a better way to fund education -- gets pushed out of sight, is an often-used and well understood strategy to make sure those main issues are never dealt with.

Based on Glenn's past performance, it's pretty clear he's opposed to funding education effectively, and this still mystifies me. I keep imagining that Glenn is, at least, ideologically driven to be efficient, like anyone suffering from business-paradigm paralysis. -- but he isn't.

For all his puffery about cutting taxes, Glenn has never offered us a more efficient way to address the things we actually need to spend money on. What's conservative about cutting taxes while leaving unfairness and inefficiency in place? You need to address both ends of the spreadsheet.

Simply saying "no" to everything is not the same thing as creating a better Wisconsin.


03 November 2007

Glenn Grothman: taxes okay when you don't notice them??

Hi folks,

Not a lot on Sen. Grothman in the news these days, apart from his minority vote on the budget and making sure illegal immigrants will never find sanctuary in the United States.

Just a few thoughts:

1) Both Sen. Grothman and Rep Strachota voted against the current budget primarily, as Rep Strachota noted to the West Bend ExpressNews, because spending will increase by 6.6 percent over the next two years. Nice, nice, very nice.

What I'd like to know is why our representatives are worried about this now, but not when property tax spending on the tech schools increased by 6.6 percent per year in each of the last 9 years? Why was that okay, but spending on our health and college education, isn't? I'm still troubled by the fact that our tax-avoidance crusaders could have missed billions of dollars in tax increases so completely.

2) Why is Glenn making such hay about illegal immigrants? I suspect it's because immigration is a perfectly safe issue for him. He should be worried about the millions of non-immigrants now working happily away at jobs in China, 1000's of which used to be in Washington County. You don't level the global playing field by making a good education even tougher for the next generation of American entrepreneurs to get -- even though that's pretty much what he does during every session in the Senate.

And so it goes.