Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Another Doylet Screw-Job

All you have to do is pass the bill.

Then you get to find out what's actually in it.

In June 2009, just as the governor's massive budget bill was about to be approved, leaders of the state Assembly added 66 pages of changes affecting everything from highway projects to school funding.

Buried in that so-called super amendment: a new property tax exemption for a $12 million privately owned student housing facility near the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The move stuck Madison taxpayers with a $238,000 bill.

There was no public hearing, no study of who would be affected.

That's because lawmakers used what they admit is an inside trick to fast-track exemptions and bypass the committee set up to review exemption proposals. They introduce exemptions as amendments late in the process, after public hearings, when the budget is certain to pass.

And, if they want an exemption when there is no budget bill pending, they introduce it as an income tax credit. Then they immediately transform the credit into the desired exemption, a maneuver that also sidesteps the review panel.

Since Madison taxpayers were the victims (this time), should we care?

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