Want to save taxes? Get rid of do-nothing political posts.
SEN. GLENN GROTHMAN, R-West Bend, is one of the more colorful characters around the Capitol in Madison. He’s hard-right, anti-political correctness and about as cuddly as a porcupine.
But he’s always good for an unvarnished quote and never shy about picking fights.
So it’s no wonder Grothman has proposed a bill to take away specific authority from Wisconsin’s secretary of state. File this one under payback.
AS THE LAW STANDS, when a bill is passed and signed it must be filed with the secretary of state’s office and does not take effect until that department has it officially published, within 10 days. The office’s longtime occupant, Democrat Doug La Follette, upset majority Republicans in 2011 for dragging his feet publishing the controversial Act 10. La Follette objected to the law and made clear he would take his allowable time before arranging publication permitting Act 10 to take effect.
Enter Grothman, whose bill would eliminate the role of the secretary of state and authorize publication of bills the day after they are signed. So there, Doug La Follette, take that!
What’s wrong with Grothman’s idea? Just one thing.
IT DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH. The only improvement we would suggest is eliminating the secretary of state office altogether. The office has few duties — arguably, none that matter — and all functions easily could be folded into other departments, thus saving taxpayers’ dollars. As Grothman’s bill illustrates, La Follette’s modest duties can be shifted with the sweep of a pen.
While we’re at it, the same suggestion holds for the Wisconsin Treasurer. Its current occupant, Kurt Schuller, even campaigned for the job promising to try to put himself out of work. He’s done his part, following through with a proposal to kill the post, but the legislature and voters must do theirs.
And we would add yet another — lieutenant governor. It’s a do-nothing job without any meaningful purpose, a very expensive anachronism in modern times when governors hardly need an understudy. Yes, we know; the lieutenant governor is supposed to be ready to step in if the governor dies or becomes disabled. Question: When’s the last time that happened?
All lieutenant governors do is parade around at taxpayers’ expense — trailed by an entourage of government staff — in a make-work, grip-and-grin, ceremonial role.
Taxpayers shell out millions for these offices, money that clearly could be better spent elsewhere. Like, in education. Or road-building. Pick your own project.
THESE OFFICES ARE provided for in the Wisconsin Constitution. They’re no longer needed, but change will take amending the state constitution, requiring passage by two consecutive legislatures followed by approval of voters in a statewide referendum.
It isn’t often voters get a chance to downsize government. We think they’d like the idea.
Dear Legislature: Give them the opportunity.