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Letters to The Platteville Journal for Jan. 1
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Keep the income tax

Gov. Walker and his supporters in the Legislature are thinking of giving us a gift: Doing away with the state income tax. Before we start sending out the thank you notes, we probably should look at some of the details.

The best guesstimates available are that the sales tax would have to grow to 13.5 percent, if the state’s general fund is to remain solvent. That would put Wisconsin’s sales tax far higher than any other state’s. If this were done the tax burden would shift from people with wealth to people in the middle income and lower income brackets.

The Wisconsin Budget Project blog did some of the numbers on the proposal. They estimate that taxpayers in the lowest 20 percent income bracket would pay 5.4 percent more of their income in taxes. The top 1 percent would reduce the share of their income paid in taxes by 4.1 percent. Stated another way, the people with an average income of $14,000 would see an increase of nearly $750 in state taxes; people with incomes in excess of $1 million would see a cut in state taxes of nearly $44,000.

We probably would not raise the sales tax to 13.5 percent. The alternatives would involve extending the sales tax to more items. The largest items currently excluded from the tax are food; fuel and electricity for home, farm and manufacturing use; professional services; medicines, motor fuel; and machinery and equipment for farming and manufacturing. Placing the sales tax nearly any of these items would further shift the tax burden to those who are least able to pay.

The other alternative is to cut state expenditures. Public education and post-secondary education have already been cut. State medical programs are already hurting. Aids to local governments have been stagnant. Perhaps we really don’t need meat inspections and other similar state programs? Good candidates for cuts really are not apparent, at least in the amounts that would be needed.

Walker’s proposed gift is worse than a lump of coal. It is another step in the direction of making the wealthy more wealthy, the poor poorer, and the state less healthy. Tell your elected representatives that this is a really stupid idea!

Ernie Wittwer

Wittwer is a Democratic candidate for the 17th Senate District seat.

The ‘real residents’

Darrel Browning has submitted his paperwork that will enable him to seek the 60 signatures to have his name on the Common Council ballot for the spring election. Darrel will be running for the at-large position currently held by Ald. Patrice Steiner.

It has been a long time since a business owner has run for a Common Council seat, and this is what the businesses in Platteville need — someone who understands and supports business. Maybe now the downtown business area will have an ally. Maybe now we will see some real measures addressed towards the businessman or woman in Platteville.

I am sure there will be opportunities for the real residents of Platteville, all 4,000-plus of them, to hear what he has to say, and I urge all to take advantage and listen to what his new outlook for Platteville is.

It is time that we remove the gorilla hold that UW–Platteville has on this community and take a stand for the city of Platteville. After all, if it was not for the city of Platteville, where would UW–Platteville be?

It is also time we get the real information from the Common Council and not just what City Manager Larry Bierke or UWP Chancellor Dennis Shields says or wants us to hear.

At a recent council meeting, Ald. Dick Bodin stated he has all the info in his packet of information for the Common Council meetings. That is the same packet that is not available to the rest of the citizens, all 4,000 of us, of Platteville.

How can we have knowledge of what is going on in Platteville when we do not have the info that is in the packets that only go to Common Council members?

It is about time the real truth be known.

I am using my First Amendment right to let my feelings be known to all that care to read them.

Michael V. Mayo
375 S. Chestnut St., Platteville

Mining in 2014

In the coming weeks and months, we will be reading, listening and viewing the outflow of information from a local sand mining company. I also ask you to keep an open mind and use good common sense when deciphering this very biased information.

For example, you will be told dust is steam, but ask the residences that live across from the loading site in Prairie du Chien if they wipe steam or dust from their homes and belongings. Keep in mind that it has been said that mining is a business that takes from the land for profit and leaves nothing behind. These people are very motivated by monetary gain.

Mining companies will tell you taking care of the land is one of their priorities. Taking care of the land by definition, surely is not removing it and hauling it away. Is not the principal part of taking care of the land improving it and preserving it so the land can sustain us for generations to come? Mining companies would lead us to believe that mining is akin to agriculture. However, mining is not agriculture by definition or by purpose.

Sand mining, up until frac oil drilling, was done in our area on a much smaller scale and thus much less insult to our environment and much less threat to our health and well-being. Must the pristine lower Wisconsin River, and the majestic Mississippi River Bluffs be sacrificed in the fight to become energy independent?

If the mining of silica sand is necessary, and protection of our environment is the goal, would it not make good sense to stay away from the environmentally sensitive areas such as our bluffs and rivers? If we are interested in our neighbors’ safety and well-being, would it not make sense to protect our clean air and water supplies?

Unfortunately mining companies like to whitewash their activities with words like “energy independence,” and taking care of our environment and “jobs.” No one wants the price of energy to be too high. However, is the price paid with our environment and health loss worth a few pennies less in fuel prices?

We must stay ever alert to the fact that if it sounds, smells, and looks bad it most likely is. Ask the landowners that have sand mines for neighbors; ask the property owners that live along the truck routes — they will tell you how bad the sound of blasting is, they will tell you about the smell of dust in the air and how offensive the sight of a hole in the ground is, where there was at one time nature’s natural undisturbed beauty.

We must stay ever alert to protect our health, safety and the environment by keeping a level head and using common good sense.

Arnie Steele
Bridgeport Concerned Citizens,
Prairie du Chien

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of The Platteville Journal.