As the state budget drags along over 100 days past due, you\’ll hear all kinds of rhetoric about how much damage the late budget is doing to the state.Â In fact, the most damagingÂ consequence the late budget has wrought upon our state is terrible political commentary.
Take this editorial by Neil Heinen of Madison\’s Channel 3.Â In bemoaning the late budget, Heinen says:
The Wisconsin State Legislature has become dysfunctional, ineffectual, and counter-productive. It is an embarrassment and it is harming the state\’s reputation and image. And the few good public servants in its ranks can do nothing. It is time for fundamental change.
The most important change will only come with reform of the redistricting process and the way campaigns are financed. Currently, government is pretty much run by rabidly partisan legislative staff members whose jobs are basically to cater to special interest money and keep it flowing. There is no longer even a faÃ§ade of caring for the interests of the citizens of this state or responsible public policy. Cash and reelection are all that matter.
However, those changes are a ways off yet. In the meantime, there must be limits placed on the ineptitude we allow during the biennial budget process. The system has to change. The best idea we\’ve heard is from University of Wisconsin professor John Sharpless who suggests giving the Legislature 90 days to pass a budget. If it fails, dissolve the Legislature and hold new elections. Would that we could to that today.
So he hits all the usual lefty talking points – the budget is being held up because of fundraising, legislators are too partisan, and on and on.Â (I attempted to debunk the whole \”fundraising is holding up the budget\” talking point here.)Â It\’s funny that he says legislators have given up on caring for the people – I would think that Assembly Republicans believe strongly that dodging $1 billion in new taxes helps regular people quite a bit.Â Conversely, Democrats likely thought their universal health care plan (which held the budget up for months) helps people with no health insurance a great deal.
The real kicker here is his solution to the whole budget impasse.Â Sure, let\’s just throw the Legislature out 90 days after a budget is due.Â You don\’t think Judy Robson (the Senate Democratic Majority Leader) wouldn\’t want a new election right now?Â Â The Assembly is barely in Republican control, and would likely flip to the Democrats.Â So if one party were in control of one house and wanted to take a shot at gaining a majority in the other house, delaying a budget would be the most sensible thing to do.
Furthermore, he actually thinks holding an election during a budget is going to lessen the influence of money on the political process?Â If anything, fundraising influence would explode during a mid-budget election.Â So let\’s recap – campaigns are bad, so in order to clean up the budget process, we need to have more of them.Â Maybe in order to stop sex predators, we should just let them babysit more often.
I realize giving this half-baked plan even a minute\’s worth of thought is a waste of time.Â But asking our media to think through what they say shouldn\’t really be too much to ask.Â Instead, we getÂ obnoxious coverage by people incapable ofÂ stringing together a coherent point.