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June 16, 2009


Hopper, Harsdorf, and Kapanke

Offer Amendments to Strip Budget


All Policy and Earmarks


Digging out of budget hole requires fiscal responsibility and honesty


[State Capitol]  Senators Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), and Dan Kapanke (R- La Crosse) announced their intention to offer budget amendments stripping out all non-fiscal policy and all earmarks from the 2009-11 biennial budget.


“Budgets should not be used to conceal controversial policy that has little chance of passing as separate legislation,” Hopper said.  “None of the non-fiscal policy will help solve our budget deficit and much of it will harm working families all over Wisconsin.”


 “Instead of trying to win votes with pork projects, we should focus on winning votes by making the budget less damaging to working families and job creators,” Harsdorf said.


“Adding $38 million in pork barrel projects at a time when Wisconsin families are cutting back is irresponsible,” Kapanke said.  “They fail to create jobs and cost families more per month so we must remove these earmarks from the budget.”


The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has identified 88 non-fiscal policy items which have typically been removed in past budgets.  LFB has also identified 91 earmarks contained in the budget.  The amendment from Hopper, Harsdorf and Kapanke will eliminate 179 items identified by LFB as non-fiscal policy or earmarks.


Among the 88 non-fiscal polices identified by the LFB are increasing the minimum mandated auto insurance coverage, repealing the QEO, adding municipal liquor licenses in select cities, rolling back the welfare reform of the 90’s, requiring the collection of racial data during traffic stops, and creating regional transit authorities.


Ninety-one earmarks are identified by the LFB with items ranging from $5 million for upgrades at the Bradley Center to $25,000 for the Root River Environmental Center in Racine.  Other earmarks include $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House, $50,000 for the Eau Claire Public Shooting Range, $100,000 for the Chase Stone Barn in Oconto, and $46,000 for Recycling Bins in Wrightstown.


“If we’re going to talk the talk on earmarks and policy, we have to walk the walk,” Hopper said.  “Even though some of the earmarks and non-fiscal policy items benefit my district, it is clear that our 1,800 page budget is the wrong place for these items.”


“The budget bill needs overhaul, and it begins by cleaning up the pork and non-fiscal policy items that have more to do with granting favors to special interests than with enacting a responsible, taxpayer friendly budget,” said Harsdorf.


“The people in this state expect us to be responsible and tighten our belts the same way they are forced to do so,” said Kapanke.