The governor's tax on big oil profits has made it through the budget committee. The Joint Finance Committee deadlocked on a 8-8 vote, meaning the tax stays in the budget for now. Racine Republican Representative Robin Vos said, with gas prices at current levels, the state could haul in $142 million more than initially projected by Governor Jim Doyle's administration. "That sounds like a gusher of money, that's going to be coming in," said Vos. "And you know who's going to be paying that? The families of Wisconsin." Vos and other Republicans also argued that the tax could be challenged in court, and the state would lose. Democrat Representative Mark Pocan of Madison countered both assertions: "to me it sounds like a gusher of excuses for big oil." The budget writing panel hopes to wrap up its work next week, and Pocan charged Republicans have no ideas about how else to come up with the revenue that the tax on big oil would raise. Another key element of the Doyle plan, a $20 vehicle registration fee increase, also stays in the budget for now.
Archives for May 2007
A legislative hearing on a proposed statewide smoking ban draws a huge crowd at the Capitol. Hundreds filled a hearing room to capacity to testify on the bill, which would ban smoking in public places across Wisconsin.
DHFS Secretary Kevin Hayden says delaying action on the bill only exposes more people to the risks of second hand smoke, and increases the chances kids will pick up the habit. Hayden says a statewide ban is possibly the best thing Wisconsin can do to improve the overall health of the public.
The proposal is being met with a great deal of resistance though. Tavern owners from across the state were also in attendance at Thursday's hearing. Sharon Ward of Milwaukee says the ban would drive away many of her customers and she expects it would cause her to lose up to 60 percent of her current profits. That concern was shared by several other business owners who testified. Tavern owners have asked for their businesses to be exempted from the bill, but the Governor says he'll reject any statewide ban that's not comprehensive.
Health groups say the bill is not about hurting business though. They argue it is meant to protect the health of workers who are forced to be around second hand smoke as a part of their job. The American Cancer Society's Jeri Allen says bar and restaurant workers have a much greater risk of developing smoking-related illnesses because they have to be around second hand smoke.
The proposal is currently being considered by a Senate committee, which is expected to vote on the bill at a later date.
Local officials in southeastern Wisconsin want to extend commuter rail from Chicago to Milwaukee, but the Joint Finance Committee would have had to approve a hike in the car rental fee, from $2 to $13. State Sen. John Lehman of Racine, a committee member, noted locals are all on board with that. The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority wanted to use the money generated by the fee increase, to fund extension of Chicago's Metra service to downtown Milwaukee, with stops in Racine and Caledonia. The fee increase failed on an 8-to-8 party line vote by the budget writing committee. Racine Republican, Rep. Robin Vos, was among those voting no.
Legislative budget writers are considering Governor Jim Doyle's proposed tax on oil company profits, and Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee aren't buying it. Berlin Republican, Sen. Luther Olson, fears the tax will be found unconstitutional. Republican Rep. Robin Vos said the tax will be passed on to Wisconsin consumers, to the tune of about $175 dollars per year for a family with two cars. And Representative Steve Kestel said there's no way the state can prevent the oil companies from doing that. "Nobody's buying the con job, that we're going after big oil," said Kestel. The governor's proposed tax on oil company profits is a key element in his budget, with the revenues slated for funding the state's transportation infrastructure.
The debate may be heated but the Joint Finance Committee is expected to keep Governor Doyle's Big Oil tax in the budget.
The real battle will be in the legislature where republicans are calling the idea unconstitutional and unenforceable. But Revenue Secretary Roger Ervin says assessing big oil on the profits it makes in the state and preventing the cost from being passed on to consumers… will work.
Ervin hopes once the tax passes, the state will be able to work with the oil companies on compliance.
Republican Senator Glen Grothman is convinced the state will be sued and will lose. To him, that means not only will the price of gas go up five cents a gallon but taxpayers will be on the hook for wasted legal fees as well.
But Secretary Ervin believes the state is on solid legal ground in protecting consumers while giving oil companies a chance to invest in future customers.
The administration estimates the tax would bring in two hundred seventy four-million dollars over two years for roads. Ervin says using the tax to build better roads for more drivers should be considered a good investment for oil companies.
Today is Opening Day in the Northwoods League .
The state of Wisconsin now boasts five teams in the NWL, including the expansion Green Bay Bullfrogs. The Bullfrogs open their inaugural season on the road at Waterloo tonight. La Crosse is in Wausau to face the Wisconsin Woodchucks tonight and Madison opens up at home against the Eau Claire Express.
Green Bay Packers top man Bob Harlan said he saw management problems with team president John Jones last fall. He told a media gathering in Green Bay yesterday that he tried to be patient to see if the problems could work themselves out, which would allow Jones to take over as team chairman. That didn't happen and Harlan, who was set to retire today, will stay on for another year.
The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors voted to extend Harlan's stay at Wednesday's quarterly meeting.
The Packers on Saturday, announced that Jones would be placed on paid leave of absence.
Harlan said he heard from several employees who work in both football operations and administration about their concerns regarding Jones' management style.
Harlan hired Jones back in 1999 and had been grooming him to take over. Now that notion seems unlikely. Harlan said the decision is up to the teams Executive Committee, but he didn't expect it would take them a full year to hire his replacement.
** Find more news on this and other NFL Stories at NFL.com.
The University of Wisconsin has landed another in-state recruit to its 2008 recruiting class.
Neenah offensive tackle Peter Konz says he'll play at the UW, becoming the Badgers second in-state commitment. He's joined by Tyler Westphal of Menasha, who committed earlier to the school.
The 6'6, 285 pound Konz was a first-team all-state selection by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. He was also listed as the No. 1 prospect for 2008, according to WisconsinPreps.com .
It hasn't happened very often this season, but the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen gave up a late lead and fell to the Atlanta Braves 9-3 at Miller Park yesterday. The Braves took the series 2 games to 1 and the Brewers have now lost their last 7 series.
Dave Bush pitched well, leaving after 7 innings with a 2-1 lead. But Derrick Turnbow walked two batters and gave up an infield single before Brian Shouse came on and cave up Brian McCann's bases clearing 3-run double, the big blow in a 7-run Atlanta 8th inning. The Braves added a single run in the 9th for the win.
Prince Fielder clubbed his league leading 18th homer of the season, but the Brewers still lost for the 7th time in the last 8-games. They've fallen to just 5-games over the .500 mark.
The Brewers were 25-1 when leading after 7-innings. Now, they're 25-2.
The Brewers homestand continues with the start of a 4-game series against the Florida Marlins tonight.
A large turn out is expected for a Capitol hearing Thursday on a bill that bans smoking in public places statewide.
Smoke Free Wisconsin Executive Director Maureen Busalacchi says it's a basic fundamental health issue. She says it's critical that lawmakers protect all employees from second hand smoke, regardless of where they work.
However, Scott Stenger with the Tavern League of Wisconsin says the bill is bad news for its members. Stenger says over half the customers in most taverns smoke, so eliminating that could hurt the bottom line of many small business owners.
The Governor has said he supports a statewide bill and will veto any version that includes an exemption for taverns. Stenger says lawmakers shouldn't be swayed by the Governor when considering how to address the concerns of business owners. Governor Doyle has said he would consider a provision that phases in taverns to a statewide ban.
Busalacchi says tavern owners need to realize the majority of Wisconsinites support a statewide ban.