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Press Release

Wisconsin Needs the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

12/18/2003

Special to Citizens for a Sound Economy

BACKGROUNDER: THE TAXPAYER’S BILL OF RIGHTS (TABOR) WOULD:

  • Limit spending growth for the state and schools to
    growth in population plus growth in inflation
  • Limit counties and municipalities to inflation plus new
    growth
  • Let the taxpayers vote in referendum to raise the rates of the income, sales, franchise, or property taxes
  • Let the taxpayers vote on whether or not the government can borrow money
  • Require an emergency fund and a budget stabilization fund
  • Automatically send surpluses back to the taxpayers
  • WHY DO WE NEED IT?

    • Wisconsin’s GPR spending grew at nearly twice the rate of population plus inflation (CPI) between 1992 and 2002.

    • In a world where special interests can manipulate government into spending more and more money, we need spending caps to hold taxes down.

    • If TABOR had been in effect since 1992, Wisconsin taxpayers would have saved more than $1.5 billion last year alone. That’s a one-year savings of $276 for every man, woman, and child in the state. Imagine the investment that could be done with that money. Imagine the spending power that would mean for a family.

    REFERENDUM CONTROLS

    • Governments can only raise tax rates if the voters agree to it through a referendum. Those referenda can only be held on specific dates – regular election dates. Spending proponents will not be able to sneak in a referendum at an unusual time, when they can count on voter turnout to be low.

    THE RAINY DAY FUND

    • Governments will be required to create an emergency fund equal to 3% of their annual expenditures, and a budget stabilization fund equal to 4% to 15% of annual expenditures. A two-thirds majority vote will be required
    before the budget stabilization fund can be used, and it must be replenished at a rate of 1% per year.

    EMERGENCY SPENDING

    • Spending limits may be exceeded in case of emergency. TABOR requires a two-thirds majority vote in each house of the Legislature (or the school board, county board, etc.) to declare an emergency, then a two-thirds majority in each house on the specific tax hike.

    • Emergency spending can only be approved once the rainy day fund is exhausted, and unused funds must be refunded if not used within 180 days.

    LET THE PEOPLE VOTE

    • A referendum is required any time the state or local government wants to:

    • Exceed the spending limits outlined in the constitution;

    • Raise the rates of the income, corporate, sales or franchise taxes;

    • Enter into new bonding.

    SUPPORT THE TAXPAYER BILL OF RIGHTS

    Rep. Frank Lasee
    608-266-9870 or 888-534-0002
    rep.lasee@legis.state.wi.us