Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Earmark Reform in Wisconsin?

This should be a bi-partisan shoo-in.

State Representatives Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee), Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), and Roger Roth Jr. (R-Grand Chute) today unveiled landmark legislation to force public scrutiny into future state budgets.

Dubbed the 'Earmark Transparency Act,' the bill will prohibit state agencies, the Governor, and individual legislators from hiding earmarks in an omnibus budget bill. Earmarks are specific expenditures that would not receive funding under standard formulas used to appropriate taxpayer dollars.

The bill also prohibits last-second additions by a budget conference committee that were never included in previous version of the budget. "It is time to end the costly game of hide-and-go-seek that has been played with taxpayer money," said Zipperer. "While earmark frustration is normally reserved for special-interest giveaways or pork projects in federal budgets, such as the infamous bridge to nowhere or the latest federal budget that included over 9,000 earmarks, Wisconsin's budgets are nearly as bad and we cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars," said Zipperer....

"When Governor Jim Doyle signed the 2007 state budget into law, the 1,633 page document contained many earmarks that were never vetted through thepublic hearing process. While many of the items were worthwhile, many others would fail to pass public scrutiny if introduced as stand alone legislative items.

Select earmarks inserted during the 2007 budget process include:
* $2.8 million for a Green Bay riverside boardwalk
* $125,000 to the Painters and Allied Trades Council 7
* $1.2 million for street improvements in Pleasant Prairie
* $142,000 to the International Crane Foundation
* $4 million for a soybean crusher in Evansville
* numerous highway earmarks throughout the state
* $800,000 for a bike trail in West Allis
* $1 million for youth summer jobs program in Milwaukee
* $950,000 for Kenosha streets
* $100,000 for two ice arenas in Ashwaubenon & Eau Claire
* $25,000 for a youth center in Mondovi
* $500,000 for a civil war exhibit in Kenosha
* $100,000 for a pedestrian path in Milwaukee

"Every two years, sadly, Wisconsin citizens are treated to stories about the bloated federal budget; pork and earmarks for a bridge to nowhere. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin Biennial Budget is not immune from pork & earmarks, except ours are not for bridges but rather, for example, raiding $4 million dollars from the State Recycling Fund for a soybean crushing facility or a $1 million dollar earmark for a conservation fund run by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, each at the behest of an individual legislator," said Vukmir.

OF course, the Second Amendment protects a valuable cure for these thefts: armed rebellion.

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