It’s time for a smaller state legislature

With tax revenues down and spending up, we need a haircut.

By Jack E. Lohman

With 20% of Wisconsinites either unemployed or underemployed, it is time that we reduce the size of our state legislature. It is obsolete.

That same 20% cut gives us 80 versus 99 assemblymen and 26 versus 33 senators. Actually, let’s make it a unicameral legislature with all 106 remaining Pols being in the same House and we’ll reduce the political bickering and special interest control that is costing us so dearly.

We’ve lost one congressional district and it’s time for a state haircut too. Sorry guys and gals, the economy has tanked and some of you helped it go down the tubes. You’ve obviously not been doing your job, except that you have helped make the legislature obsolete.

Look at the taxes we’d save, not just from reducing salaries but also eliminating staff, office and travel expenses and retirement benefits. ALL state offices need a haircut, and this is a good place to start.

What have these politicians done for us, anyway? Most certainly they’ve increased unnecessary special-interest spending and taxes and driven people and companies and jobs out of the state. But aside from giving us more elbow room, they have hurt our families. Badly.

Had they been on OUR payroll rather than the special interest’s that would not have occurred.

Currently all they do is play political games. And take campaign cash from industries that want not to be regulated, like the payday loan sharks and AT&T, who likes the pockets they are in but want more. I can think of many other family needs I’d rather spend my money on.

Look at the money we’d save. Millions in state salaries, of course, but the special interests would have fewer politicians to buy. And since they pass their political costs on to the consumers anyway, we’d see lower product prices and more competitive companies. Yea, this is a win-win.

Geez, maybe 30% is a better cut.

We should also:

  1. Cut the legislature’s summer vacation to two weeks. They should work all year as the rest of us do, or cut them to really part time and pay accordingly. We don’t need seven months to think about the next election, or to cleanse our memories of the stupid things they did last session.
  2. Put them on an incentive program where they can increase their incomes by decreasing unnecessary spending, waste and taxes without destroying needed government services. You know, like schools and fire and police. Government is a business; run it like one.
  3. Declare the two-party system what it is: collusion and an illegal, criminal conspiracy. Caucuses are counter-productive and cost taxpayer dollars. With zero parties we’d eliminate gridlock and the costly games they play to get their “gang” back in control.
  4. Give the politicians a public option. They can continue taking bribes — er, campaign cash — from the special interests that want in our pockets, or have their campaigns funded by the people they work for; the taxpayers. At $5 per taxpayer per year that would be one helluva bargain, even at 100 times the price.
  5. Implement Instant Runoff Voting, which will give the people what they want but the two-party legislature doesn’t want them to have: a fair option to vote for a third party candidate without throwing your vote away.
  6. And we must — absolutely must — hire an outside, unbiased efficiency analyst to review and carve away the fat in all of the government departments, even to the point of eliminating those that are obsolete.

And of the 106 politicians that are left, 80% of them ought to become unemployed in November.

I’d even go with 100%. New, independent faces. That’s a sad but necessary part of our recovery.

5 Responses to It’s time for a smaller state legislature

  1. On a side note, the Arizona Clean Elections bill is so effective that those politicians opting into the system, 70% of them, no longer accept business contributions. They can no longer be bought and the Chamber of Commerce, an association of businesses, is maaadd as hell. They want to sue the state to reverse the system and go back to their old ways. Three other such suits failed.

  2. (1) I think what you’re suggesting is a unicameral (one house) Legislature. “Bicameral” is what we have now in Congress and in every state except Nebraska.
    (2) In the case of a tie vote among the 106 legislators, who breaks the tie? So you need an odd number.
    But thanks for bringing this up. I’ll respond at Marketplace of Ideas tomorrow.

  3. Thanks Steve. You are indeed right about the tie vote and it should be an odd number. But the biggest problem we have is the corporate cash that corrupts and blocks good legislation, like the PayDay loan scam/reform. What’s not to like about politicians, eh?

  4. And I’ve made that correction to a “unicameral” legislature. It works just great in Nebraska (in spite of Ben Nelson).

  5. And this from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:

    ‘Full-time’ work to die for

    Wisconsin is one of 10 states that is considered to have a “full-time” legislature and state lawmakers here are among the best paid in the nation. But as the Sheboygan Press pointed out in a recent editorial, the full state Senate convened in session on 17 days in 2009 and 14 days in 2010 before adjourning its 2009-2010 session last week. The full Assembly was “in session” only slightly more regularly, convening for 23 days in 2009 and 13 in 2010. That included two all-nighters members of the lower house pulled in a mad rush to complete its work for the year.

    The work habits of Wisconsin lawmakers beg some obvious questions. If Wisconsin’s legislature is “full time,” just how infrequently are part-time legislatures in other states in session? And instead of working into the wee hours of the morning when most everyone in the state is asleep and virtually no one is watching, couldn’t they just schedule a few more work days during the year?

%d bloggers like this: