Another budget conference committee meeting. Another day with no progress toward a state budget.
Common Cause Wisconsin is a government watchdog group. What does it think of the current budget process?
Executive Director Jay Heck says it's ridiculous stubbornness on the part of the legislative leadership not to have a budget by now. He says Wisconsin is the laughing stock of the nation now that the legislature is the only one in the country not to pass a budget.
But Heck says lawmakers still have plenty of time to raise money for their next campaign. He says campaign fundraisers are scheduled all the time. In fact two committee members were scheduled to attend a fundraiser in the Dells just hours before Thursday's budget committee meeting.
The answer Heck says is to ban campaign fund raising while the budget is being debated. He says the process ends up being delayed while special interest groups jockey for position by donating money while the budget debate is going on. Heck says, ban fundraising and you're likely to see a budget passed before the statutory deadline of June 30 th .
And while the delay puts local governments and school districts in budget limbo, Heck says there are no penalties for state government if the budget is late.
Other states either dock lawmakers pay or the government shuts down until a budget is passed. Heck says it reminds him of the late 90s when Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and Senate leader Chuck Chvala ran the budget process with one difference. There seems to be more fundraising going on now.