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As I See It

Wisconsin lawmakers at odds over how to spend a pot of gold

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The state of Wisconsin has a unique problem on its hands. What to do with all the money it is sitting on. After decades of struggling to balance the state budget, state lawmakers are at odds over how to spend billions of dollars from the federal government in pandemic relief funding. The state is projected to have a $3.8 billion surplus, spurring discussion of the best way to spend the money. Governor Tony Evers has proposed sending checks of $150 to every Wisconsinite. He would also use some of the money to fund education and provide childcare credits. His idea is being derided as an election-year gimmick. They say $150 won’t go far in this era of inflation and won’t make any real difference in people’s financial situations. Some want to see the money used to provide more meaningful tax reform in the form of tax cuts. All of these ideas should be debated by the Legislature. Instead of firing off news releases criticizing the other side’s plan, our elected representatives should have public hearings and civil debates about the best use of this money. This is a good problem to have. But it is easier to show financial restraint when budgets are tight. Our lawmakers should conduct a deliberate debate and make good financial decisions, because it is unclear when Wisconsin may ever find itself sitting on a pot of gold again.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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