Spotlight on Wisconsin

Money & Politics Blog: Sales tax reform? Not very likely


Todd Berry is nothing if not realistic. His 18 years at the helm of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have taught him that good public policy often doesn’t get past the gatekeeper of politics.

“The pressure on elected officials in a largely career Legislature is to make people happy and get re-elected,” Berry says. So while his group has identified some troubling trends regarding the state’s sales tax, he’s not expecting lawmakers to embrace reforms.

Money & Politics Blog: Nonprofit news outlets not all the same

The other day at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s annual convention in Madison, I represented the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism on a panel titled, “Nonprofit News: What You Need to Know About ‘Free’ Media.”

Money & Politics Blog: Union lobbying plummets in last half of 2011

When the unions’ lobbying money flowed, it really flowed. And then, for the most part, it dried up.

During the first half of 2011, labor unions collectively reported spending more than $7 million on lobbying in Wisconsin. This six-month total was $2 million more than these same unions spent during the entire prior two-year legislative session, 2009-10.

Money & Politics Blog: Inside special interests ruled on redistricting

By now, the notion that outside special interests drive the political process is so widely accepted as to be almost a cliche. And often this belief is buttressed by the disclosures that lobby groups must make.

Yet when it comes to the hot-button state political issue of redistricting, the process appears driven not by outside special interests but an inside one: the Legislature itself.

Money & Politics Blog: Out-of-state donors have stories to tell

One liberal activist has accused Scott Walker — who’s raised much of his money for a likely recall election from out of state — of “traveling across America selling out Wisconsin to the highest bidder.” A Walker campaign spokeswoman put it differently, saying the Republican governor’s “reforms have resonated with voters all around the country.”

Dick Uihlein is in a position to help sort things out — and, happily, is willing to do so.