By PATRICK MARLEY and STEVEN WALTERS
Posted: Dec. 21, 2004
Madison - One of the main backers of a so-called taxpayer bill of rights unveiled a strict version of the proposal Tuesday, saying he was prepared for a "brutal" fight with some of his Republican colleagues who favor a softer approach to spending limits.
Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue) said a constitutional amendment with tougher limits than those proposed in summer was needed because government spending is out of line.
The issue was dropped in summer mainly because Republican lawmakers couldn't agree on a method to limit taxes. One casualty of the impasse was then-Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer (R-West Bend), who lost her re-election bid in fall to a fellow Republican who accused her of being soft on taxes.
"We have moderate to liberal Republicans who look at this in terms of protecting the government from the people who pay the bills, and I look at this as protecting the people who pay the bills from the government," Lasee said.
If his proposed limits had been enacted a dozen years ago, they would have forced a spending cut of as much as $1.3 billion, or 11%, from this year's $11.7 billion general fund budget, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.