Suppose you were a state legislator - let's say the majority leader of one of the houses - and you were faced with a looming $5.4 billion budget deficit, a state constitution mandate for a balanced budget, a national recession and a Department of Revenue report predicting 65,000 jobs will be lost in 2009.
Now, if you were in that situation what would be one of your top priorities? Tax incentives to keep or move jobs to Wisconsin? Massive cuts in spending to balance the budget? Audits of all state agencies to eliminate duplicate or ineffective services and programs?
Well, apparently if you were Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, you would plan on reintroducing Healthy Wisconsin. That's right. Our fiscal problems, our perilous job situation, our massive budget problems are not nearly as important as government taking over your health care.
It is irresponsible to even consider this type of massive government expansion when it is not at all clear how we will balance the budget even without any increase in spending at all. Then throw in the fact that businesses all over the state are having problems meeting expenses and many are cutting their current workforce and Healthy Wisconsin will have the effect of trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
Healthy Wisconsin will cost a minimum of $15 billion to implement. The taxes will be collected just like social security is now. At least 4% will be taken out of your paycheck and your employer will pay an additional 10.5% of what you make. That is a huge increase in taxes for everyone in the state. How many people are going to lose their jobs so that a business owner can pay the new taxes? How many businesses will leave Wisconsin or close their doors forever?
Is Senator Decker going to make the decision as to who gets fired? Will he take responsibility for it? Of course not, because his "intentions" are good, he just wants everyone to have health care. It apparently doesn't matter if there are enough people working to actually make the system work, or whether or not the added strain to the already shaky budget will saddle generations of Wisconsinites with unimaginable debt.
The priority should be creating jobs and balancing the budget. I've said before and I will continue to say that government needs to get out of the way and let entrepreneurs create jobs. New government programs like Healthy Wisconsin do not create jobs. They do not improve the business climate and will make Wisconsin the number one taxed state in the country. Healthy Wisconsin would represent the largest single state tax increase in US history at a time when the economy is in recession and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.
If this is what Senator Decker and Senate Democrats calls leadership, our state is in a lot of trouble.