Government might limit government

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published March 1, 2004  | March 2004 issue

A new amendment making its way through the state Legislature would drastically limit growth in spending by state and local governments.
The amendment would tie increases in spending to inflation. The restrictions would exclude spending related to new construction and education enrollment growth.

Supporters of the push point out that total spending has been doubling every 10 years and say the tax burden is hurting citizens and the state economy. Opponents, including Gov. Jim Doyle, say it would threaten local control and overly restrict public services.

The amendment would require new spending above the state-mandated limit to be paid for with new taxes approved by the public for specific reasons. Other states have similar laws, but Wisconsin's, modeled on an amendment in Colorado, would be among the strictest. It would take almost three years to pass the amendment. In order to go into effect, the initiative would have to pass two legislative sessions and then be put to vote in a general election—November 2006 at the earliest.

Legislators have also reintroduced a bill from last year that would prevent any new local property tax levies.

Joe Mahon