Protection Money

In this update: 1. Big money behind push to put road fund in constitutional lockbox 2. Groups show effects of Citizens United, call for statewide vote on ruling Protection Money

Email date: 1/23/13

In this update:
1. Big money behind push to put road fund in constitutional lockbox
2. Groups show effects of Citizens United, call for statewide vote on ruling

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Big money behind push to put road fund in constitutional lockbox
Most beneficiaries of government policies or services can only dream of having a constitutionally protected funding source for their pet programs. But some of Wisconsin’s most powerful interest groups that are among the state’s biggest suppliers of campaign cash are well on their way to realizing that dream.

About two dozen trade associations, companies and allied labor unions that support a proposed amendment to Wisconsin’s constitution providing special protection for the state’s transportation fund have contributed $10.8 million to Governor Scott Walker and $5.2 million to legislators since 2010, a Democracy Campaign analysis shows. The proposed amendment has been quietly but steadily gaining the needed legislative approvals that precede an eventual statewide ratification vote.

Governor Walker has been sharply critical of former Governor Jim Doyle’s practice of moving money from the transportation fund to the state’s general fund to help pay for education spending and other non-transportation programs. Walker did exactly the opposite in his first budget, raiding the general fund to supplement the road fund, and has hinted that he plans to do the same in his second two-year taxing and spending plan.

For more on our findings, check out our podcast.

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Groups show effects of Citizens United, call for statewide vote on ruling
The Democracy Campaign took part in a Capitol news conference yesterday to highlight findings about the role big money played in the 2012 elections and to call on the state Legislature to give the people of Wisconsin an opportunity to make their voices heard on the issue by authorizing a statewide referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the infamous Citizens United case that cleared the way for unlimited election spending.

WDC’s director pointed out that spending in Wisconsin elections has tripled since the Citizens United ruling was handed down in 2010. And consider this: In the 2012 presidential election, 32 megadonors gave as much to Super PACs involved in the race as 3.7 million people made in small donations to the Obama and Romney campaigns combined. If money equals speech as the Supreme Court insists, then each of those 32 Super PAC donors spoke with 115,000 times the volume of each of the nearly 4 million Americans who gave much smaller amounts to the candidates themselves.

For more, check out Wisconsin Public Radio’s coverage of the news conference.