After this weekend’s budget backroom session, it demonstrates right now the lack of transparency in our State Government. What makes me more upset that Illinois, yes Illinois a week and half ago passed a comprehensive transparency bill in which Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) will sign into law. Rep. Bill Kramer over the last two years has introduced comprehensive legislation that will make our state’s finances go in the open, but last legislative session after successful passage in the House, the Senate Rules Committe blocked the legislation from a vote and also did that with the Earmark Transparency Act. Transparency is one part of restoring confidence in the budget process.
The time has come now for comprehensive budget reform in Wisconsin, and what I think Wisconsin needs to do is to bring back confidence in the budgeting process is:
- Require all State approprations and expenditures over $20 be posted on a searchable database. Illinois is doing it, Indiana is doing it, Minnesota is doing this, and Missouri. There is NO EXCUSE to not post the state’s checkbook out in the open in Wisconsin. Over 20 states have transparency legislation in law and this budget needs to be a wake up call to pass the Kramer bill for true financial disclosure.
- A ban on inserting non-fiscal policy items in the budget. The statewide smoking ban for example is a reason why the budget is for finances only not to ram through under the rug a party’s wish list for legislation that would not stand the light of day.
- Make Wisconsin follow GAAP standards in our budgeting process and to go to a zero based budget like what is being introduced by Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa/Brookfield-14th). If Wisconsin, was a private entity a lot of people would be going to Federal prison right now for cooking the state’s books.
- Requiring votes for tax increases in the State legisature must be approved on a super-majority vote in the State Budget. Meaning that it will require 60 out of 99 votes in the House to approve tax increases and would require 20 votes out of 33 in the Senate meaning that a three-fifths vote would be mandated for tax increases in the legislative floor through the amendment process.
At a time when Wisconsin is faced with its worst budget deficit ever, we are seeing a re-run like 1982 but getting worse when it was under then Governor Earl. It is time that Wisconsin elects someone who will put comprehensive budget and transparency reform on the table.