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GUEST EDITORIAL: Get all the goofy, extraneous stuff out of the state budget

It seems as if you can't get a bunch of legislators in the same room without goofy stuff happening. And when Assembly Republicans got together to create a new version of the state budget -- without the tax increases or spending hikes in the budge...

It seems as if you can't get a bunch of legislators in the same room without goofy stuff happening.

And when Assembly Republicans got together to create a new version of the state budget -- without the tax increases or spending hikes in the budget recommended by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and the Democratic-controlled Senate -- strange things happened.

Rep. Frank Lasee, R-Green Bay, got his Republican colleagues to eliminate all state taxpayer funding from the University of Wisconsin Law School. It turns out that Lasee doesn't like lawyers. Under his ill-advised plan, $1 million would be cut from the Law School's $7 million taxpayer allotment, until all such funding was eliminated by 2010.

But that wasn't all. Here are other proposals that made their way into the two-year $56 billion budget:

  • A plan to name a day after Progressive leader Robert La Follette was scrapped, but a highway from Madison to the Illinois line would be renamed after President Ronald Reagan.
  • Coin collectors and others who deal in gold bullion would get a tax break. Republicans want to eliminate the sales tax on gold bullion.
  • A tax break for clay pigeons used by nonprofit gun clubs that was set to expire would be allowed to remain in place.
  • A 30-year-old ban on heated sidewalks would be repealed.

Some of the proposals are ill-advised. Some are just goofy. And some would be OK as separate legislation, to stand and fall on their own merits, but they don't have any business in the state budget.
And, it should be pointed out that cluttering up the budget with extraneous stuff is by no means exclusive to Republicans. Democrats have done this plenty of times in the past.

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Fortunately, a conference committee that will be named today to iron out differences between the Assembly and Senate budgets, will probably deep-six much of this stuff.

And Doyle could veto the rest.

Good riddance to all. Let them stand by themselves as separate bills, if the authors think they are such great ideas.

-- Copyright © 2007, La Crosse Tribune/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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