Wisconsin is already a tax hell and the
"deal" to break the state budget battle makes things a lot
worse. The $1 a pack increase in the state cigarette tax will take
hundreds of millions of dollars out of the state economy and continue to
feed the state spending monster.
Still, Republican leaders, particularly Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch,
deserve credit for fighting off virtually every other tax hike proposed
by Gov. Jim Doyle and the Democrats. The gas tax hike? Dead. Statewide
health insurance mandate? Dead. Hospital tax increase? Dead, despite
desperate lobbying by the big hospitals in favor of it.
The tax for the Kenosha-Milwaukee commuter train? Shot down, but not
Huebsch and the Republicans were at a 2-1 disadvantage with the
Democrats holding the state Senate and the governorship. But Huebsch and
Assembly Republicans made it clear that unless the Dems caved on the gas
and hospital taxes, thereíd be no new budget. The Republicans got much
more of what they wanted than did the Democrats.
In the meantime, 24 Assembly Republicans and two Democrats have to
decide if they are liars. All have taken the famous "pledge"
to oppose all tax hikes forever. The language in the Citizens For Tax
Reform pledge is not ambiguous. It reads: "I pledge to the
taxpayers and to all the people of this state that I will oppose and
vote against any and all efforts to raise taxes." If any of the
pledge signers votes for the budget deal, they will be exposed as liars.
I donít think they can imagine the hell they will have to pay for it.
* * *
A talented young athlete from the Watertown area named Daniel Staller
moved to Cleveland over the summer. Daniel, an incoming senior, attended
a couple of practices of his new schoolís soccer team. Homesick and
desiring to finish high school with his friends, Daniel prevailed on his
mother to move back home.
Daniel has gone on to star as the quarterback of the football team at
little Maranatha Baptist Academy. The team had a 7-2 record and
qualified for the Division 6 state high school football tournament. But
the creeps who run the WIAA, the institution that governs high school
sports in Wisconsin, have forced Maranatha to forfeit its first six wins
and declared the team out of the state tournament. They ruled that
Danielís two practices in Cleveland make him ineligible to participate
in sports at Maranatha.
Itís a rule, you know. And with the WIAA, no rule can ever be less
important than any kid. First of all, itís a stupid rule. Designed to
discourage kids from transferring to private schools, the rule makes it
a virtual crime to consider trying a different school. More importantly,
Maranatha did nothing wrong and the Stallers didnít deserve to be
Daniel Staller goes to school at Marantha. Itís not like some
future Peyton Manning was recruited to play at Arrowhead. Heís a good
football player at a nice little school. To destroy his senior year and
ruin the football season of all of his teammates over an arcane rule is
beyond mean-spirited. It is cold-blooded and cruel.
Thereís a reason why the WIAA is staffed by a bunch of burnouts.
(Check out their résumés.) They are taking out their own frustrations
over their unfulfilled lives on kids who actually have futures.
* * *
Ten years ago, a horse I co-owned named Captain Bodgit was one of the
favorites to win the Kentucky Derby. At that point, I had never picked
the winner of the Derby. Not ever. In attempt to help my horse win, I
used this column to predict the race would be won by the only horse I
thought was capable of beating the Captain, Silver Charm.
Silver Charm won by a head. So much for jinxing. Iíve gone on to
pick several Derby winners since then. Alas.
On Saturday, Unbridled Belle, co-owned by me, will be one of the
favorites to win the Breeders Cup Distaff, the richest race in the world
for female horses on the dirt. The race sets up perfectly for her as a
lot of speed horses will create a pace scenario conducive to her big
closing kick. Sheís training wonderfully and comes off a win in the
Distaffís most important prep race. While itís a tough field of 14,
thereís only one horse I think may be able to beat Unbridled Belle.
Her name is Lady Joanne.
I learned my lesson from the Silver Charm debacle. Unbridled Belle
will win Saturday and Lady Joanne will be second.
* * *
I see Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson wants to spend $30,000 worth of
taxpayersí money on membership dues. I seriously wonder if any private
business in the entire city of Waukesha spends as much money on
* * *
Itís been 18 days since Pabst Farms boss Peter Bell said heíd
have a replacement within 60 days for General Growth as developer of the
siteís lifestyle center (open air mall). Tick ... tick ... tick.
(Mark Belling is the host of a daily WISN radio talk show. His column
runs Wednesdays in The Freeman.)