By Greg Bump
MADISON — In an address before a crowded Monona Terrace for Business Day
in Madison, Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday plugged state budget plans that
cut the state workforce and reduce the operating budget.
He touted what he called “the most sweeping regulatory reforms in the
Midwest,” which he says have eliminated red tape while keeping
environmental standards high. He also cited single sales factor tax
reform — a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce agenda item — as an
example of his administration’s business-friendly agenda.
But that relationship with business has been strained recently as WMC and
other groups have hit Doyle on alleged “hidden taxes” The minimum wage
controversy also has caused strain.
Nevertheless, the Dem guv received a polite reception from members of
various business groups.
In his 20-minute speech, Doyle made reference to his $5 million job
training initiative as a way for workers’ skills to keep pace with
changing technology. He said the program is a “win-win” which allows the
state to help business by investing in their employees’ skills while
advancing their ability to earn higher wages. He also touched on stem
cell research, his commitment to the proposed Institute for Discovery,
and the need for Wisconsin to keep pace with competitors. “We understand
that research in the future isn’t going to be winner take all,” he
said. “Our challenge here in Wisconsin is to make sure we remain at the
center of the research.”
In his speech, the guv repeated his promise to veto the Republican
property tax freeze proposal passed by the Assembly last week and the
Senate yesterday because it fails to include either two-thirds funding
for schools and fully funded shared revenue to municipalities. He said
calling for a property tax freeze before identifying those funding
streams is like “putting the cart before the horse. No Wisconsin business
would operate that way, and neither should the Wisconsin government.”
GOP Assembly Majority Leader Mike Huebsch, one of many legislators who
attended the event, accused Doyle of doing a “180” on the property tax
freeze, and suggested the delivery of the bill to the governor is being
delayed to allow taxpayers to contact Doyle and voice their support for
“The fact is this is not a game for the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Huebsch
said. The Republican said school funding is a separate issue from the
freeze, and the school funding formula is not determined before the
budget is complete, he said.
When it’s all said and done the budget sent from the Legislature to Doyle
to sign this summer may contain two-thirds funding,
Huebsch said. “The school funding idea is a complete diversion from the
real issue because school funding is determined in the budget.”
And Recently retired New York Times columnist William Safire, a former
Nixon speechwriter, didn’t try any sleight of hand as the keynote speaker
at the event. “I’m not objective. I’m a right-winger,” Safire said.
In the end, Safire predicted, the 2008 presidential race will come down
to a Richardson-Warner ticket for the Dems and a McCain-Condoleeza Rice
ticket for the Republicans. And, in his un-objective view, Safire said
the GOP will win.