Democrats in the state Assembly used procedural moves Thursday to block passage on several pieces of legislation and a state constitutional amendment. The Minority party objected to third reading on five proposals, which included legislation making changes to bear hunting permits and allowing bass culling during tournaments. Lawmakers also stopped first consideration of a constitutional amendment aimed at boosting the state’s rainy day fund.
The proposed amendment requires excess revenues to the state above 6.5-percent of personal income to go into a rainy day fund, which could only be tapped during a recession or fiscal emergency. A two-thirds vote of the Legislature would be needed to then access the money.
State Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) says it’s meant to keep spending under control, which is what taxpayers clearly want the Legislature to focus on.
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) says the measure will prevent government from pouring money in to new programs when times are good, which only results in deep cuts when the state faces financial trouble. Fitzgerald says it’s a “common sense approach” that will keep the state from having to raise taxes every time the economy takes a downturn.
Democrats argue the measure ties the hands of future generations.
State Representative Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) pushed for several changes, pointing out that the current version requires payments even when the state is broke. Staskunas says the amendment would require $124 million to be put in the fund during the current biennium, even though the state is looking to make drastic cuts to education and many other key services.
Republicans rejected all amendments offered by Democrats.
The proposal is up for first consideration in the Legislature. If approved by the Senate and Assembly, it would have to pass again next session before going to a statewide vote. The Assembly will take a final vote next month.