Here is my full column from the Washington County Daily News that ran earlier this week.
Gov. Tony Evers announced that he is providing over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five building projects. The announcement highlights just how broken our government has become.
Our government is intentionally built with divided powers and checks on those powers. The Legislature makes law. The executive executes that law. The judiciary judges the correct application of the law. The entire apparatus was built for the express purpose of avoiding the concentration of power that always precedes tyranny.
In this instance, last year the governor proposed a list of building projects to be funded by the taxpayers. The Legislature, which has the responsibility and power to allocate taxpayer money, passed a capital budget that agreed with the vast majority of the governor’s building proposals, but not all of them. Unlike the federal government, state governments cannot print money. The state Legislature must prioritize spending and balance the budget.
That is how the process works. The governor suggests how to allocate the budget. The Legislature writes the budget. The governor then checks the Legislature with his veto power. Everyone moves on. Not this time. Governor Evers announced that despite not being included in the capital budget, he is going to spend over 36 million tax dollars to pay for five projects. How? The answer illustrates our broken government. First, the money Evers is spending is slush fund money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. This was the $1.9 trillion waste passed by the federal government to “change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers.” This gargantuan spending boondoggle fueled our current almost $34 trillion national debt and was a key contributor to the inflation and high interest rates that Americans are suffering with today. It is borrowed dollars that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be paying taxes to pay back. The American Rescue Plan Act was a generational theft.
Sold as a “rescue plan,” the spending also created gigantic slush funds for state governors to spend at their personal discretion. This is the money that Evers is using to pay for building projects. Our government’s structure is supposed to prevent the concentration of power and arbitrary government, but the slush fund allows Evers to allocate money — a power expressly granted to the Legislature — without any oversight. Such arbitrary exercises of power are the stuff of dictatorships.
Looking past how the money got there and how the governor had the unfettered power to spend it, let us look on what it is to be spent.
$15 million for the Janesville Sports and Convention Center
$9.3 million for the Milwaukee Iron District new soccer stadium $7 million for the Green Bay National Railroad Museum expansion
$5 million for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts
$330,000 for the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre upgrades.
No wonder the Legislature did not agree to spend millions of dollars on these projects. Is it really the role of state government to fleece the taxpayers out of their hard-earned wages to pay for a soccer stadium in Milwaukee? Is expanding the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay worth making a young family in La Crosse cut back on groceries to afford their rent? I am sure that the Door County Peninsula Players Theatre is delightful, but it is difficult for an elderly couple in Hudson to enjoy when the cost of gas is over $3.00 a gallon. Budgets are about priorities and there was a good reason why these projects did not make the list.
At the end of this money train are people who will be paid to do these projects and the very few people who will make money off of the facilities. Watch where that money goes and how it is spent. Then we will all know why Evers chose these projects.
We see how broken our government is. The federal government shakes down future generations by borrowing money to spend on the present generation. This triggers inflation, responded to by jacking up interest rates, thus lowering the spending power and quality of life of the current generation. The money is allocated into gigantic slush funds for governors to spend at their whims, thus bypassing small-“r” republican governments at the state level and creating arbitrary government. Then the money is spent on governors’ pet projects that have little to no value for the taxpayers paying the bills.
The scheme is not about a better Wisconsin or a better America. It is about fleecing the many for the benefit of a few.