Senators Baldwin and Whitehouse Reintroduce “Buffett Rule” Legislation

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


  (202) 224 - 6225


Senators Baldwin and Whitehouse Reintroduce “Buffett Rule” Legislation

The Paying a Fair Share Act Would Require Multi-Million-Dollar Earners to Pay at Least 30% in Taxes


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a group of 16 Senators in introducing legislation to require America’s top earners to pay a fair share in taxes.  The Paying a Fair Share Act would help ensure that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least a 30 percent effective federal tax rate, and would generate over $70 billion in revenue over ten years. In 2012, Senator Baldwin served as the lead sponsor of this legislation, also known as the “Buffett Rule,” in the House of Representatives to help level the playing field between middle class taxpayers and millionaires and billionaires. 


LAB Fraud Hotline: Working to Stop Waste, Abuse and Mismanagement

LAB Fraud Hotline: Working to Stop Waste, Abuse and Mismanagement
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
The disabled folks from Black River Falls who called me were on to something. They described problems (like waiting for a van that never came) with state contractors who were supposed to transport Medicaid patients to a doctor or therapy appointment. The problems they described were happening in many parts of the state.
The complaints led to a public hearing. Last spring lawmakers directed the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) to conduct an investigation into contactors hired by the state to provide non-emergency medical transportation. Auditors were to investigate the complaints raised about substandard service. 
But some people were afraid to complain. For a kidney dialysis patient, life depends on the ride to the dialysis center.

Paul Ryan and the GOP "voodoo time machine" tries to change history

Reality is full of inconvenient truths. And facts (as comedian Stephen Colbert famously said) have a known liberal bias. Which explains why policy-deficient Republlicans react accordingly. Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman this week reflected on the GOP's continued insistence on believing in -- or at least spreading around -- sheer fantasy. In his New York Times column, Krugman in particular used Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) as an example of this.

Krugman first reflected on how newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) now takes credit for months of national economic resurgence,  when before the fall election, McConnell and his brethren were blaming President Obama for the nation's supposed economic malaise.

Ron Johnson: A Working Single Mom Should "Find Someone to Support Her"

Oh, this is rich.

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, you know-- the guy who got rich by finding someone to support him, has a pearl of wisdom for all the working single moms out there:  If she wants to "increase her take-home pay” instead of having yet "another child out of wedlock" to increase her welfare windfall, she should instead "find someone to support her." (see video below)

THE REAL STATISTS: Solar issue shows how Walker Republicans are for top-down government, as long as it's corporate-based

Based on Scott Walker's own actions and comments over the years – as in, “I was the original tea party in Wisconsin” – many voters and pundits regard Wisconsin's governor as a mainstream right-wing Republican, “mainstream” in the sense that the tea party has driven much of the party's modern ideology, to the chagrin of some of its putative national leaders.

However, now that he has a lengthening record as a state legislator, county executive and governor, it's becoming very apparent that Walker is fundamentally not driven by the often peculiar politics of his party's tea party wing. Rather, it seems to me, Walker represents the mainstream GOP's continuing fetish for statism.

That idea may raise eyebrows among observers with some knowledge of political science, since statism is often regarded as a government-centric, top-down philosophy -- one that Republicans, libertarians and other ideologues often seek to assign to the Democratic Party and anyone else to their left. But if you could describe Scott Walker in one word, I think it should be statist.

Vouchers for special education will hasten money drain from public schools.

Perhaps the least-understood educational topic is special education. Special ed students make up such a small part of the student population they don’t seem worthy of much attention.

However, if Republicans and voucher proponents get their way and “voucherize” special education, public school districts could find themselves in a funding death spiral.

It costs about $12,000 to educate a k-12 student in Wisconsin. However, if that student has special needs that average cost per student (and the key word here is average) jumps to around $27,000 a year. (And bear with me for using rounded and averaged numbers.)

Special needs is a broad category. One student may have a reading disorder which may require only an hour a day with a reading specialist. Another student may be severely disabled and require a full-time aide, assigned to that student for the entire day. In some cases this may be portal-to-portal assistance requiring that aide to be on the bus with their charge to and from school. That aide may also undergo student-specific training to administer medications or deal with medical emergencies.

When right-to-work group says jump, tribe seeking Walker's Kenosha casino OK asks how high, then drops deal with labor unions

Here's the awful truth, in two parts. For years now, the Menominee Tribe has been trying to get the state's permission to build a gambling casino in the Kenosha area. Gov. Scott Walker has delayed deciding that issue again and again, for what seems no good reason other than politics. Well, in mid-December, Wisconsin Right to Work, a conservative anti-union group, decided to help Walker come to a decision. From a report in the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper:

Wisconsin Right to Work, a newly formed organization aimed at the passage of right-to-work [legislation] in Wisconsin, has expressed concern over a potential deal between the Menominee Indian Nation and two labor unions that would recognize the union[s] via card-check.

Yup, it's true. The very most important and critical issue in the Menominee proposal isn't whether gambling is good or whether the casino would create jobs or anything else about the proposal other than the fact the the tribe has openly been dealinig with -- HORRORS! -- labor unions.

And as of this week, the tribe blinked, big time. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel let its readers know that today in a story under the following headline: Tribe, union dissolve pact in bid to sway Scott Walker on Kenosha casino

Taxing hybrids and electrics: WisDOT's proposal and the shunning of common sense

All ye need know about the current mindset of transportation planners in Wisconsin -- and the politicians who direct them -- is contained in a new radio feature that just aired on National Public Radio's "Here and Now" program, which focused on Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) proposals to raise new road construction revenues by creating new fees on hybrid and electric motor vehicles.

The program, reported from WUWM-FM News in Milwaukee, quoted Chris Eichman, who with his wife bought the first all-electric Nissan Leaf ever sold in Wisconsin two years ago. The Eichmans also own a Toyota Prius hybrid and are okay in concept with paying their fair share in gasoline taxes or alternative fees. But, said Eichman, "“A flat fee really doesn’t take into account that we chose these cars because they’re energy efficient and we purposely don’t drive as much,” he says. “And I don’t think it takes into account all the rest of people in the state who drive a standard car — or even the less efficient cars that just pollute more.”

Mark Gottlieb, WisDOT secretary, defended his proposal:

“So the hybrid owners ask me, ‘Well, I drive a hybrid car, you’re taking away all my incentive to do a good thing,'” he said at a Chamber of Commerce gathering in Milwaukee. “No we’re not, we’re not!”

Pay Attention - There’s a New Legislature in Session

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me,” the Supreme Court Justice directs newly elected and re-elected lawmakers.
So begins the new 2-year Legislative Session.
On the first working day of 2015 a new group of freshman legislators began their work. Ordinary folks from ordinary lives receive a crash course in state services, agencies, budgeting and parliamentary procedure.
Soon an onslaught of proposed bills will appear in the email in-boxes of lawmakers.
Over 1,500 bills will be introduced before the 2-year legislative session adjourns. These bills will flow through 16 Senate and 33 Assembly committees. Certain proposals will also be reviewed by 10 joint committees.


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