Monday, March 20, 2006

JS Editorial Misses Its Own Point

I appreciate the overall point made in an editorial today in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which urges a broader debate on the proposed constitutional amendment to restrict public revenue in Wisconsin. Considering the effect of this amendment on public services and programs in the state is a very important piece--I would argue the most important.

But in coming to that conclusion, the editorial falls prey to conservative rhetoric on this issue--and subsequently misses its own point.

Repeating what an article in a JS article falsely stated last week, the editorial claims that a Legislative Fiscal Bureau report demonstrates that if the amendment went into effect twenty years ago, "the state would have collected $1.9 billion less in taxes in 2003-'04, a 14% cut."

This is simply untrue.

The report actually says that if the amendment went into effect twenty years ago, the state government in Wisconsin would have lost $1.9 billion in public revenue in 2003-2004.

So, ironically, the LFB report does exactly what the editorial asks people involved in the amendment debate to do--that is, focus on the effect of this amendment on the government's ability to provide needed services and program.

It's troubling that the editorial didn't even abide by its own argument. I'm really starting to wonder how many people actually have bothered to read the LFB report (it's only 12 pages, at least a quarter of which are tables).

It just goes to show, however, how thick the conservative rhetoric is surrounding this amendment, not to mention just how poised and ready the proponents are for a PR battle if this amendment should ever reach the ballot.

If they can't win the debate with substance, they'll gladly turn to the easier battle over perception. Sykes and Belling, start your engines.


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