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WEAC Members Cyberlobby Against Tax Scheme

Approximately 400 members used the OnWEAC Members Only Cyberlobby this week to communicate to legislators their opposition to the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights proposal. State senators were called to Madison for an extraordinary session July 26-28, 2004, but failed to vote on it.

TABOR, a proposed constitutional amendment that would undermine local tax authority, would have led to a severe reduction in governments' ability to provide essential services to citizens, including public education.

WEAC President Stan Johnson called on members to take action against the harmful tax scheme to protect the state's ability to provide classrooms that work for every child. "WEAC is part of a large coalition that will continue to battle any plan that threatens our schools, teachers and education support professionals," Johnson said. "This tax scheme would cause immediate and massive harm to Wisconsin's great schools and staff. It is flawed fiscal policy that will not create great schools for any child."

The broad-based coalition consists of education, religion, health care advocacy, domestic violence prevention, public employee and local government groups. Coalition members held a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday. At the Senate Judiciary, Corrections and Privacy Committee hearing, the only public hearing held on the proposal, opposition to TABOR was overwhelming.

Many groups voiced concern that a draft of the proposed constitutional amendment was made available just a few hours before the public hearing, leaving little time to examine the impact of the measure.

Proposed changes to the state Constitution must pass both houses during consecutive two-year legislative sessions before moving to voters in a statewide referendum. Because lawmakers did not pass TABOR before the current legislative session's deadline, the soonest it could go to voters is 2007.

Johnson said it is important to keep local taxing authority where it belongs: in the hands of local government. "TABOR and the freeze would lock in inequities and make the system even more regressive," he said. "A freeze imposes a one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem."

The Legislature is expected to debate the issue next session, which begins in January.

Posted July 29, 2004

At the Capitol News Archives