Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Strategy on Revenue Amendment?

In a recent press release on the proposed constitutional amendment to restrict public revenue in Wisconsin, the pro-amendment group Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. appears to be trying out a new PR strategy.

The purpose of the release is to criticize the UW Board of Regents for claiming the amendment would cut state funding to the UW System. The WPT release challenges this by claiming the amendment would actually allow the state to increase overall revenue from year to year—the increase would just need to be within the rate of inflation plus population growth.

So if we’re to get this straight, the tactic of the WPT is to justify the amendment by claiming that at least it doesn’t totally shut down the ability of the government to annually increase revenue? How generous.

According to the WPT release, it isn’t difficult to see how the amendment would likely have zero impact on the UW System. It reads: “You don’t need a Ph. D. to figure out what the amendment would or would not do to or for the University System. Simple reading comprehension skills are all that’s necessary.”

Thankfully our UW System is training students to not only comprehend a single source, but also engage in analysis that takes a variety of sources into consideration before coming to conclusions. When we take on this higher-level activity, the WPT perspective doesn’t come out too well.

Since the purpose of the amendment is to restrict public revenue, it isn’t difficult to prove that the state government would have less money overall to spend under the amendment. But just to get an idea of how much less, the LFB completed a report earlier this month that showed the amendment cutting nearly 15% from the 2003-2004 state budget if enacted twenty years earlier.

So unless we are to believe that the state legislature would still decide to spend the same amount on the UW System in 2003-2004 despite having 15% less to spend overall, there is no question that the amendment would decrease the amount of state funding dedicated to the UW System--which would subsequently increase UW tuition for students and parents at even sharper rates than the past few years.

As the WPT release noted, if the amendment would in fact decrease state funding to the UW System, “the Regents’ concern and opposition to the amendment would appear to be warranted.”

I guess we can score one for the Regents.

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