Problem: Wisconsin has a budget deficit
Republican Solution: Cut the state's tipping fee. What's a tipping fee, you ask? It's the per-ton fee that we charge out-of-state garbage haulers:
The tipping fee charged for each ton of garbage dumped in a landfill pays for state grants that counties and municipalities use to defray the cost of state-required local recycling programs.I can see the new state slogan now: Wisconsin--Wastebin of America! The ads write themselves.
"I'm not sure how much longer we can justify being in the recycling business," [State Sen. Scott] Fitzgerald said of the grants and the mandate to local governments. [. . .] "If local governments want to continue their programs, that's great, but I don't feel that it's something we should be engaged in at the state level." [. . .]
Rich Eggleston, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, said that although the state requires local governments to operate or participate in recycling programs, state grants cover only about 30% of the costs of those programs. "It costs money to keep that stuff out of landfills," he said. "The idea of reducing the tipping fees at the same time that we have an underfunded mandate is mind-boggling."
Sen. Russ Decker (D-Schofield), a committee member who voted against cutting the tipping fee, said the cost of dumping garbage in Wisconsin already is lower than the cost in neighboring states, and that cutting the fee would bring more waste from other states here. [. . .] Caryl Terrell, Wisconsin chapter director of the Sierra Club, said last year that 36% of all the garbage dumped in Wisconsin landfills came from other states. Cutting the tipping fee would only be a signal to send more, she said.
But seriously, if we have issues with the revenue stream--and our $1.6 billion deficit would seem to indicate that we do--it is insane to cut revenues, even if it's only a few million bucks. Worse, for all the anti-tax hysteria the Snacilbupers have been spreading, this cut in revenue doesn't actually put more money into the pockets of a single Wisconsin citizen. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And I won't even touch the unfunded mandate mess . . .
Problem: Wisconsin ranks last in the graduation rate for African American high school students
Republican Solution: Eliminate the Chapter 220 program, which provides integration for Milwaukee suburbs and a significantly higher graduation rate for black students who participate:
Getting rid of Chapter 220 would mark the end of the state's "oldest and most successful choice program," says Demond Means, interim co-superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District, which has consistently been the biggest participant in the program.Does the program cost money? You betcha. But even a cursory analysis shows that the program is doing more for participating students than some voucher schools I could name. And in terms of return-on-investment, the fact that 220 students excel, graduate, and pursue college at a rate far higher than their peers tells me it's working.
"I think it's been successful for kids, academically and culturally," Means says. "If those issues aren't enough, there's also the financial impact. The fact of the matter is Chapter 220 aid is in essence property tax relief." [. . .]
Without the revenue that comes with bringing Chapter 220 students into the district, homeowners in Wauwatosa could expect property taxes to increase by about 15.5% to make up for the loss of about $4 million, according to Wauwatosa School District business manager John Mack. To the owner of a $200,000 home, that's about $235 more a year, Mack says. There would be an additional property tax increase of about 7.2% the next year because Wauwatosa would lose another $2.8 million in revenue because of the loss of students counted under the state's equalization aid formula, he says. [Aid is based on a three-year rolling average, meaning cuts in aid three years running for participating districts.]
Chapter 220 was designed to be a "sweet deal" to encourage suburban districts to accept minority children, said Anneliese Dickman, senior researcher at the Public Policy Forum of Milwaukee. [. . .]
Though specific comparison data on Chapter 220 students isn't readily available, Whitefish Bay Schools District Administrator James Rickabaugh says there is one piece of "absolute, uncontestable" data that shows Chapter 220 is beneficial for student participants.
The graduation rate for Chapter 220 students is "very comparable" to resident students in the districts they attend, Rickabaugh says. That was supported by a survey conducted by the Public Policy Forum and included in a report published in 2003.
The survey says that when asked about their post-graduation plans, 75% of the Chapter 220 students planned on going to a four-year college or university.
And once again, we see the anti-tax hysteria that propels Snacilbupers into office being ignored when it's time to make policy.
If you want, you can follow Joint Finance Committee nuttiness at the WisPolitics JFC blog (found via Mike).