GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Large-scale tax cuts may not be in the works
There might not be enough votes in the Wisconsin Senate to approve the type of large-scale tax cut that Governor Scott Walker's been talking about. At least two Republicans say they'd rather use a projected billion-dollar surplus to avoid a structural deficit in the next budget starting in mid-2015.We learned last week about the projected surplus, and the Republican Walker says he wants to give most of it back to taxpayers. But with only a three-vote majority, Republicans would not be able to approve a major tax cut if more than one G-O-P senator strays from the party line -- and that's already happened. Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles says he's "urging caution," considering the deficits from the recent past. Ripon Republican Luther Olsen said voters are telling him to be smart and quote, "Don't just pander for the next election." At last word, Wisconsin's fiscal obligations will create a 725-million dollar shortfall in the next budget. Walker says he's not too concerned, and neither are Assembly Republicans. G-O-P Finance co-chair John Nygren says it's been proven that tax cuts generate enough economic growth to wipe out structural deficits in subsequent budgets.
Deer hunters and the businesses they patronize are both crying foul over a plan to end deer registrations at places like bars and gas stations. On Wednesday, the state Natural Resources Board will consider a proposal to start registering catches over the phone and online. It's among the dozens of suggestions from James Kroll, the governor's "Deer Czar," to boost hunting in Wisconsin. It was proposed in the name of efficiency -- but bars fear it will take away business, and hunting groups say we'll loss some of the tradition and camaraderie among hunters after they turn in their tags and swap stories over a cold one. The phone and Internet registrations would begin this fall, and the conversion would be complete by 2015. It would save 182-thousand dollars the D-N-R now spends to run 626 deer reporting stations. D-N-R staffers also say it would count the harvest faster, and make it more convenient for hunters. A few randomly-selected hunters would still register in person, so parts of their animals could be tested for chronic wasting disease. Agency staffers say bars could set up Internet terminals to help hunters register -- but tavern owners say those people will just register with their smartphones someplace else. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress generally supports Kroll's recommendations -- but some members think more hunters will simply not register their kills.
Workers and job applicants would not have to worry about their superiors snooping into their Facebook accounts, under a bill that's up in the Assembly tomorrow. The lower house will consider prohibiting companies, landlords, and colleges from asking their people to give them the passwords for their social media accounts. The Senate unanimously approved the measure last November. Governor Scott Walker says he'll sign it if it gets to his desk. Some companies have said they need to enter their employees' private accounts to make sure they're not giving out trade secrets or other proprietary information. Others call it an invasion of privacy. Assembly Democrat Melissa Sargent of Madison said she's heard from job applicants who fear being snubbed if they don't give up their data. Privacy advocates say colleges are forcing student-athletes to give their personal passwords to school officials in the name of preventing N-C-A-A violations. Employers can still check what their workers post publicly on social media -- plus any communications from company-or-school owned computers. The bill also lets them investigate when employees send proprietary data to places where the government already bans snooping -- including personal e-mail accounts.