Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

It is time for Governor Doyle to be brutally honest

State budget, Taxes, Economy

According to the website, 37 governors are delivering State of the State messages knowing they face voters this November. The best advice for the incumbents given dire economic straits is to play it safe and refrain from any bold overtures. has reviewed the 27 State of the State speeches given thus far finding that “the recession — which many economists believe ended late last year — has not yet turned the corner into a quick recovery for most states. Governors are using their annual speeches to brace state lawmakers and voters alike for another year of deep budget cuts, which will be made all the more difficult because the ‘easy cuts,’ as they like to say, have already been made.”

Governor Doyle is not up for re-election. Therefore, the governor has a golden opportunity to be brutally honest about our true status during his last State of the State speech Tuesday night.

Here are ten items Governor Doyle should openly discuss in a candid, frank manner with the Wisconsin people Tuesday night:

1) Some experts might be suggesting the recession is over. However, in Wisconsin, we are still reeling and the worst may yet to come.

2) The latest figures show state unemployment around nine percent. Wisconsin’s jobless should be ingrained on our minds during every fiscal and policy decision we make.

3) Our deficit is worse than it has ever been in our state’s history. Undoubtedly, the legislature will have to work this year on a budget repair bill. Given our rocky economy, we must act accordingly.

4) The stimulus is gone. The pot that we thought contained magical gold is now empty. It didn’t work. We will not have a similar reserve to fall back on.

5) We cannot afford any new spending programs. The time to make fancy promises that are simply unaffordable is over.

6) We need to cut spending. Families across Wisconsin are making painful yet prudent decisions everyday. So can and should state government.  During his January 18, 2010 State of the State speech, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) told legislators, “I urge you to be prudent and conservative…to err on the side of less spending, lest you make next year even worse.” That is a key message we need to hear from our governor Tuesday night.

7)  Eliminate recent tax increases.  While people are losing jobs and taking salary cuts, where is new tax money supposed to come from? May I remind everyone of Governor Doyle’s statement during his 2003 State of the State address: "We should not, we must not and I will not raise taxes." In the past, the governor liked to trot out the bullet point that he didn’t raise state income or sales taxes. That’s impossible Tuesday night. Of the many tax increases contained in the 2009-11 state budget, the largest was individual income taxes totaling $529.8 million according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

8) Every fiscal or policy decision should be examined, analyzed, and then be decided upon with the taxpayer, job creation, and the dramatic improvement of our business climate in mind as our top priorities.

9) We must examine ways to shrink the size of government. reports, “Almost every governor’s speech to date has contained references to the need for a smaller and more efficient state government. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), for example, said she would seek to eliminate 78 boards and commissions and close 10 state institutions, including five prison facilities. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D) called on lawmakers to approve efficiencies he said would save taxpayers $200 million a year.”

10) We cannot budget on a wish and a prayer. Stop making fiscal policies based on wild hopes that Washington will pump more money into Madison and rescue us from our fiscal crises. A certain special election in Massachusetts should have started turning the spending spigot in the nation’s capital toward the off position.

Refrain from comparing Wisconsin to other states. There is a temptation to assert that Wisconsin is better off than some states like California, Illinois and Michigan. That is a message that will not resonate and will be of little or no consolation to struggling Wisconsinites. Besides, it is arguably untrue.
The Pew Center for the States released a report, "Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril" that outlines 10 states, including Wisconsin that are experiencing the same kinds of problems that drove California into disaster. While Wisconsin doesn't have the magnitude of the problems California is facing, our state has similar problems.

Governor Doyle could be more forthright with the Wisconsin public. Tuesday night is his last major opportunity to come clean and tell it like it is. If he is truly honest, his speech will address the themes I have outlined.

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