Thursday, April 06, 2006

GOP Confusion Creates Hostility Over Revenue Amendment

It appears Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue) is withdrawing his support for the revenue amendment. This is significant because Lasee, who was the author of TABOR, represents the segment of the Wisconsin GOP base where support for restricting public revenue is strongest.

Lasee's concern is that the amendment has been watered down too much with loopholes. Specifically, the revised amendment that was released earlier this week allows the legislature to exempt service charges from the revenue limits. This was allowed for local government service charges in the original amendment, but the revised version also allows it for state government service charges.

Owen at "Boots and Sabers" assures his readers that Lasse is overreacting to the addition. As he writes, "This sentence cause me to get upset, but here’s the thing.... it’s a mistake."

Owen goes on to explain that he has received personal assurances from amendment co-author Sen. Glenn Grothman that allowing state service charges to be exempted from the revenue limits was not supposed to be a part of the revised amendment. Apparently the drafting lawyers added it without getting confirmation from the authors.

As Grothman told Owen: "I wouldn't gut my own damn amendment."

It's surprising that Lasee would go so far as to release a press statement angrily withdrawing his support for the amendment without first talking with Grothman about the changes that upset him. I suppose anything is possible, though.

This in-fighting is even more bad news for the amendment, particularly in terms of PR. The Journal-Sentinel has already printed a story on Lasee's hostile withdrawal, and I can only imagine others in the media will pick-up on it soon (if they haven't already).

Even if Lasee reverses course and decides to again support this amendment, this little episode highlights some serious tension on the GOP side of the aisle. There are those in the GOP ranks who are hesistant to support such a restrictive amendment, while there are others--like Lasee--who want to make the amendment even more restrictive. It's going to take quite a magic trick to please them all in order to just get this amendment through two consecutive sessions of the legislature.

And this doesn't even consider the spell that would need to be put on those outside the GOP establishment to gain their support. With opposition to the amendment growing by the day, it doesn't seem likely to happen.

UPDATE: Grothman and Rep. Jeff Wood (R-Chippewa Falls) both just released statements (here and here) confirming that the line about exempting state service charges from the revenue limits was a mistake. The reaction by Lasee to this acknowledgement will be interesting.

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