After news broke that Terrence Wall, Republican candidate for Senate, did not pay state income taxes four of the last five years (now nine of last ten), taxpaying Democrats (and taxpayers, period) made their anger known. RPW Executive Director Mark Jefferson claims the uproar was just a misdirection tactic;
“The Democrats will do anything to avoid talking about Feingold’s record.”
In one little sentence Jefferson made two huge mistakes.
He proved himself oblivious to justified public anger over a man with millions in annual income avoiding income taxes.
Russ Feingold’s record as a United States Senator is a source of pride not only to Democrats, but all citizens of Wisconsin.
Sen. Feingold has worked aggressively to address federal debt issues, with the Control Spending Now Act and health care reform that would reduce deficit spending.
National security is a prime focus of Sen. Feingold, despite outright lies to the contrary. He is addressing Yemen now, and was years before the attempted bombing on Christmas Day. Meanwhile the Republican opposition is intent on pumping more resources into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which at this point accomplishes nothing more than putting American (and Wisconsin) soldiers in harm’s way.
Before the Supreme Court decided big business had a compelling right to free expensive speech, Sen. Feingold authored a law to reduce corporate clout in elections. That legislation ensured your ballot had more influence than any company’s bank account.
All Terrence Wall offers is the anything-you-can-get-away-with mentality that nearly destroyed America’s economy.
Still think we don’t want to talk about Feingold’s record, Mark?
Kicking off his campaign today Terrence Wall said (presumably with a straight face);
“I want to talk about the issues. People are tired of the politics of personal destruction.”
The “politics of personal destruction” are the state income taxes Wall didn’t have to pay four of the last five years.
The issues? I don’t know what the issues are because Wall is too busy insulting Sen. Feingold’s distinguished eighteen year Senate record to bring up the “issues.” Wall said “[Feingold] holds listening sessions around the state but he doesn’t listen.” Sounds more like the politics of personal destruction to me.
Terrence Wall didn’t break any laws when he didn’t pay state income taxes. A full four days after the story broke, Wall finally responded;
“If you are willing to put capital to work to grow businesses and to create jobs, state government gives you a tax credit for doing that, for taking that risk, because you are going to incur losses at some point, undoubtedly.”
With an income between $3,000,000 and $15,000,000 I fail to recognize the loss that would justify letting the rest of working Wisconsin pay taxes, but allow Wall to skip out. If the losses are coming “at some point, undoubtedly” perhaps he should pay taxes until then.
When Wall wants to talk about legitimate policy issues, I’ll listen. Saying one thing and doing another is no way to campaign, but a clear indication of how Terrence Wall would govern.
Yesterday Tomah Mayor and former Libertarian candidate for Governor Ed Thompson declared his candidacy (as a Republican) for the 31st Senate district seat Kathleen Vinehout currently occupies. I heard rumors last week so I’m not surprised, just excited for this campaign to get underway. It will be a good show.
Ed Thompson is a straight-shooter, and I like that. I don’t like the “Wisconsin’s economy is tanking and the state is losing jobs because of taxes” rhetoric in his press release. I just don’t buy it. Taxes in our state are never going to be the lowest in the nation, because Wisconsinites enjoy our quality of life. However Thompson raises one good point–the legislature needs to watch new taxes in this economy. Especially if the Dems want to stay in power.
As for the accuracy of the rest of Mayor Thompson’s statements, a study by the Workforce Alliance projects 426,000 mid-level job openings in Wisconsin by 2016. Mid-level meaning education exceeding a HS diploma, but less than a college degree (essentially tech school). This includes skilled manufacturing jobs, the type right-wingers claim are leaving Wisconsin in droves. (Note: Workforce Alliance appears to be an advocacy group for exactly the kind of education its study claims WI will need)
Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is a wonderful, progressive Senator, she’s got my vote. Check out her speech at Fighting Bob Fest. Ed Thompson still has the website from his 2002 gubernatorial campaign up, so check that out before it becomes Ed for Senate.
Like I said, this is going to be a great race. I can’t wait to see Vinehout and Thompson debate (neither can Vinehout). And when Vinehout wins next November, I hope this means the return of “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Ed” bumper stickers.
Fighting Bob has a pretty good article today on the school funding battle going on between state and local government. The author is a little hard on the legislature as Wisconsin’s latest budget was difficult and cuts had to be made, and he seems to ignore that whether money comes from a state tax or a local tax, its still a tax. However that doesn’t change the basic fact that the formula for funding Wisconsin’s schools is deeply flawed. Point being:
More and more, funding schools is done by local property tax referendum.
That is a big problem. Referendums rarely pass because:
A. People don’t want their taxes to go up.
B. People without children in school really don’t want their taxes to go up.
Black River Falls just missed out on a golden opportunity to build a new elementary school to replace aging buildings that don’t meet ADA requirements because people didn’t want their property taxes to go up. Unfortunately the children that are most affected by the referendum were not allowed to vote on their own future.
Something has to be done about the way Wisconsin funds education. Forcing all major spending decisions to go to referendum turns into Taxpayers vs. Children. Children, our future, are all too often the losers of that match-up. Education is one of the most important responsibilities of government. As undemocratic as it sounds, passing these important decisions off to voters en masse is irresponsible because it leaves children in low quality schools.
As stated earlier, a tax is a tax no matter what level of government levies it. If we cannot pass referendums to finance education, we need to try something else. We can’t afford not to.