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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 52.0° F  Light Rain

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Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch seeks tax solutions in a Madison roundtable discussion

On Feb. 11, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch led a tax reform roundtable discussion in Madison. This discussion was not related to the tax reductions proposed in Gov. Scott Walker's most recent State of the State address, which would take place immediately to distribute most of the projected 2013-2015 state budget surplus back to taxpayers. The roundtable addressed long-term tax changes for Wisconsin, and any reform proposals would not be implemented before the 2015-2017 biennial budget. >More
 Prepare for a Scott Walker victory in 2014

"Your current health insurance is being canceled and you consider other available policies unaffordable." Is this a right-wing talking point, designed to gin up opposition to the health care reform widely known as Obamacare in an effort to see it fail? On the contrary, this quote comes from a recent document issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. >More
 Customers shouldn't subsidize bad decisions by the Madison Water Utility

Seven months ago, I wrote a piece for Isthmus that argued that Wisconsin water utilities are "shirking their responsibilities in order to become cash cows for fiscally strapped municipalities." In a nutshell, the problem is that some water utilities are transferring excessive revenue to the city governments that own them rather than using those funds to replace depreciated infrastructure. >More
 "Right the Rules" initiative will improve Wisconsin's economy

Sometimes, the most important government reforms are the most boring. A good example is the "Right the Rules" initiative being spearheaded by Rep. Daniel LaMahieu (R-Cascade). Right the Rules is a comprehensive legislative review of Wisconsin's administrative code. >More
 Wisconsin's business climate is improving

They don't have a candidate, but Democrats increasingly have a message for the 2014 gubernatorial race: Wisconsin is falling behind Minnesota, and it's Scott Walker's fault. Just minutes after learning of better economic news in Minnesota than Wisconsin in 2012, progressives took to their keyboards and began blaming "extremist" policies enacted in our state in the last two years, in prose so purple it could have been on a Vikings football jersey. >More
 Keep the feds out of our schools!

Not everything worth doing should be done by the federal government. That may be the understatement of the millennium, but it's the key to understanding why the current push for "common core" standards in education is a bad idea. >More
 The high cost of water

Years ago George Carlin did a comedy bit called "Water Sez," which included the lines "water says, who cares. Drink me, I don't give a *#$%!" Many water users feel the same way and only think about their water when it's time to pay the semiannual bill. That may be about to change, though, and not just because the Madison Water Utility will soon be invoicing you monthly. Water is taking a bigger bite out of household budgets at the same time that Wisconsin's water utilities are apparently shirking their responsibilities in order to become cash cows for fiscally strapped municipalities. >More
 Tax code vs. democracy

It's February, which for most of us means it's time once again to begin preparing tax forms. Other than perhaps a 24-hour rectal exam, there is no experience I dread more than this annual ritual. >More
 Wisconsin mining bill is widely misunderstood

One of the first items of business for Wisconsin's new Legislature will be a reconsideration of Assembly Bill 426, which reforms the state's regulation of iron mining. In the previous session, the bill passed the Assembly by a 59-36 margin but fell one vote shy in the Senate, when Republican Dale Schultz defected in an otherwise straight party-line vote. With an expanded 18-to-15 majority, the GOP can pass AB 426 without Schultz's vote, but hopefully a few Democrats will also support the interests of their blue-collar union constituents by voting in favor of this widely misunderstood bill. >More
 Innovations at the UW will make college more affordable and accessible

The New York Times recently called 2012 "the year of the MOOC," the strangely compelling (and somewhat ironic) term for massive open online course. MOOCs are taking the world of higher education by storm, as millions have signed up for online, college-level instruction from online vendors like Udacity and Coursera. In a college town like Madison, MOOCs are a very big deal indeed. >More
 Tommy Thompson turns in his best performance in third debate against Tammy Baldwin

The third debate between Wisconsin's U.S. Senate candidates, former Gov. Tommy Thompson and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, would best be described as a smackdown. The Friday night debate at Marquette University Law School had all the energy and theatrics of a WWE event but, unlike professional wrestling, the animosity between the protagonists was not staged. >More
 Dane County Board reacted rashly to the Act 10 judgment

Suppose you learn that your blood pressure is 140 over 90, or just on the verge of being too high. Rather than prescribe medicine immediately, your doctor asks you to buy a home blood-pressure monitor and test yourself a few times to see if things are improving. You do it, but discover that your blood pressure is getting worse over time, until one day when the test comes back at 120 over 80. >More
 Eric Hovde will win Senate GOP primary for Wisconsin

One of the nastiest primaries in Wisconsin's recent history is winding down, and the polls say it's a horse race. According to a recent survey from Public Policy Polling, Eric Hovde has a slight edge over Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann in the Aug. 14 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. >More
 Liberals must see light on smaller government

Now that the recalls are over, some Madisonians believe our most urgent task is mending a body politic that's been bruised and battered by the electoral combat of the last 16 months. Confrontation, demonstrations and petitions are out. Respect, tolerance and dialogue are in. >More
 Eric Hovde is the latest outsider with a shot at a Wisconsin Senate seat

In April 2010, Ron Johnson was a relatively obscure Oshkosh businessman, but seven months later he defeated Russ Feingold and became Wisconsin's junior senator. Will lightning strike twice, with another renegade outsider winning the state's remaining Senate seat in 2012? Since the outsider in question is Eric Hovde, there's a good chance the answer will be yes. >More
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