Friday, February 17, 2006

The League of Women Voters: Public Enemy #1

Numerous organizations have come out against the revenue restrictions amendment since it was introduced just over one week ago, but the opposition by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin seems to have really caught the attention of conservative state Republicans. Perhaps it’s because the League of Women Voters is a grassroots political organization, unlike the other groups opposing the amendment that represent unions, student associations, children and family services, and local government (who cares what they think, right?).

In a press release by state Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue), the League of Women Voters (LWV) is criticized for releasing a “poorly written attack” on the revenue restrictions amendment that “ignore[s] their own mission statement.” Lasee continues, “They’re simply parroting the usual liberal talking points, and pushing that as their agenda.”

So what would’ve prevented this catastrophe? According to Lasee, “They haven’t talked to me or the other authors to find out what [this amendment] does. If they had, they’d know what they’re saying is wrong.”

Thus, in order to truly understand the revenue restrictions amendment, a group must first talk to the authors and supporters of the amendment who will gladly clear up any confusion. (Side Note: As Carrie at What’s Left reported yesterday, some of our elected state legislators may not be the best equipped to explain the amendment to others.)

Here is what’s actually in the LWV release:

“Limiting taxes has a general appeal, but cutting government services does not. We believe in adequate financing of essential government services – services such as building and maintaining roads, parks and schools, providing safe and healthy communities, educating our children, protecting the environment, and making available health care and other aids for people in need.”

How terrible, right?

And then there’s this:

“TABOR/TPA would produce an inflexible tax structure that would inhibit the ability of a municipality or county to adjust to new situations. Touted largely as a way to reduce local property taxes, this amendment would also ‘freeze’ state revenues, thus reducing the funds that go to local governments to decrease local property taxes. Funds passed by referenda for critical shortages will fall on the local property tax, not the state budget. TABOR/TPA would diminish the power of local officials to make decisions they were elected to make. Similarly it would lessen the responsibilities of the Legislature and the Governor to carry out their proper functions.

TABOR/TPA would make major changes in the economy as well as in governmental programs. Government services under-gird the economy by building and maintaining the infrastructure. They support the high quality of our institutions of higher education which attract businesses, and they help many individuals and families increase their participation in the economy as workers and as consumers.

Much as some legislators would like to gain the support of their constituents by their campaigns to lower taxes, the truth is that our local elected officials are watching their own budgets closely and judging the needs of their constituents carefully. The League will continue our opposition to TPA/TABOR and any other tax freeze proposals, especially those sought through a constitutional amendment.”

The only point that the LWV is slightly off the mark on is the notion of a “freeze” on revenues and taxes. The amendment, in fact, would restrict revenues to increases in inflation and population growth. Since neither of these factors would allow revenues to keep up with the cost of providing services, however, the effect of the amendment is accurately portrayed by the LWV.

So it’s really more of a slowly tightening chokehold on government revenues rather than a freeze.

That changes everything, right?

UPDATE: The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin responds to Lasee.


Anonymous Dorothy K Dean said...

As a member of the Board of the League of Women Voters Milwaukee County I appreciate spreading the word about the rational, League position on TABOR or whatever it is they are calling it now. Such legislation would have disasterous consequences that threaten our democracy. While things are not perfect in Europe, they do understand better than Americans just what taxes provide and do not rush to cut them willy nilly. Taxes support a way of life that attempts to spread the benefits around so that everyone can have decent health care and a good education and clean water and air, etc. Thanks for your comments.

February 23, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I couldn't agree more, Dorothy.

I'm happy to help spread the League of Women Voters message on this issue and others. I'll gladly continue to do so in the future.

I want to thank your organization for joining the opposition to this amendment, which seems to be growing every day. The LWV criticism seems to have really gotten under the skin of conservatives, more than any other group opposing the amendment, which is testimony to the well-respected influence of your group.

February 23, 2006  

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