Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Letters to the Editor: Dec. 18, 2014

Gas tax losses

To the Editor:

It was Vladimir Lenin who once said, “Everything is connected to everything else.” This is a truism when you consider what’s happened to gas prices lately. Because the price of gas has gone down at the pump, in seven states below $2 per gallon, the taxes have also dropped and that money is supposed to pay for roads and bridges. But in most cases it goes into the General Fund and the highway department gets shafted again. That’s why it took 50 years to get the Stillwater bridge built.

So now states that collect taxes based on the pump price are thinking about raising them to compensate for the loss. But here are the unintended consequences. If the state loses money then it has to get cheaper repair companies, but that also means if the company has to lower its price to get the contract then cost overruns will be the nature of the business, which it already is, but in years to come it will be substantial.

In a book written by Paul Posner, he lays out the revenue from various tax collections as property taxes income $442 billion, sales and gross receipts $431 billion, general sales taxes $285 billion and personal income taxes $260 billion. As cuts to other programs kick in by 2015 over 900 federal grant programs that send money to states will also be exhausted.

In 2010 the government gave $624 billion to states to offset their budget shortfalls, the largest grant hand out in history. And you can see the waste of money being spent in St. Croix County, all you have to do is drive down the same road they chip and dipped last year. I could never understand why putting layers of stone and tar over the same road every year is going to repair it especially when the frost heaves keeps buckling the pavement. Worse yet, they’re putting that junk on four-lane roads cracking windshields and cutting tires. Talk about irresponsible.

A second problem looming on the horizon is the federal government paying off student loans for those who go to work for the government after college. That’s right, in the military you have to get shot at to get a GI Bill school loan, all these other employees have to do is go to work for the right government agency and they’re home free. But the argument there is that money is being stripped away from most agencies because they aren’t using the paying off of school debt to get more qualified workers. But if you have ever wondered how we got into this financial mess, this school payoff program has been around for years. In fact, every agency under the federal cap has had it and billions have been paid off.

I’m wondering if these government programs aren’t an intelligence test of some kind. Those who take money from their parents to go to school, the old fashioned way, are less intelligent than those who just run up education debt and let the government pay it off. In a way, it’s a form of welfare when you think of the quality of worker the government gets in return.

Robert Pike, Town of Stanton

---

Wind siting report not to be trusted

To the Editor:

In October, an important report was finalized and sent to the Wisconsin legislature by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). This wind turbine siting health review and policy update report was drafted by the PSCW staff and Wind Siting Council (WSC). State statutes mandate that this report be produced every five years. Its purpose is to inform the legislature of changes that are needed to Wisconsin’s statewide wind siting rules (PSC 128) and other related necessary actions.

Readers need to understand how the WSC Report was produced and why its heavily biased position cannot be trusted.

The PSCW staff, widely recognized as very pro-wind, drafted the report and then sent it to the 14 WSC members for feedback. Eight WSC members — the “majority”— are pro-wind, including two wind developers (who profit from wind development), two utility representatives (who operate wind projects), and two members of quasi-environmental groups (receiving funding from wind interests). The six remaining members — the “minority” — are pro-health and without financial conflicts of interest. All requests by WSC members to modify the PSCW staff’s draft were either unilaterally accepted or denied by the staff, or were put to a simple majority vote of the WSC, with the pro-wind majority winning nearly all of those votes.

That majority also had the votes to decide what information would be allowed into the report, and voted to exclude all “real world” wind turbine health impact testimony, affidavits and resolutions from Wisconsin residents, towns, counties and the Wisconsin Towns Association. Additionally, discussions in the health section of the report about specific peer-reviewed literature frequently omitted key information contained in those articles, resulting in a report that would be misleading to the legislature and consequently harmful to rural communities where future wind projects may be constructed. In an outrageous move strongly objected to by the minority, the majority voted to adopt the health section of the draft report “as is” before it was ever discussed paragraph-by-paragraph at any WSC meeting.

For the policy update section of the report, the majority voted to exclude any discussion of noise limits and setback distances used by other countries, even though much of the report’s empirical research was conducted in Europe where noise and setback limits are more restrictive than in Wisconsin. Consequently, the report presents an apples-to-oranges comparison, rendering its conclusions largely irrelevant for informing Wisconsin wind siting policymaking. Finally, the majority voted to make no recommendations to the legislature, despite a significant number of important recommendations for legislative changes that the minority deemed necessary and submitted for inclusion in the report.

The resulting WSC Report amounts to nothing more than wind industry propaganda. Don’t trust it.

The view of the minority, while largely excluded from the main report, is presented as an appendix to the main report and provides a truthful, objective report by unconflicted WSC members whose only interest is protecting public health. Read it at bccrwe.com/images/stories/WSCMinorityResponse2014.pdf.

Jim Vanden Boogart, WSC Alternate member; Greeleaf, Wis.

Advertisement
randomness