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Friday, March 03, 2006

Legislature Passes Government Choice Bill

Madison - In what is sure to be the first of many states, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a sweeping reform bill that will create the nation's first "Government Choice" program here in Madison.

Long History

Under the proposal, legislators will now have a choice of which legislative body they would like to attend. The current Assembly and Senate have been in existence for years, graduating hundreds of career politicians and sending many off to lobbying firms and corporate policy analyst positions.

However, in recent times the Wisconsin Legislature has faced a tough going with an unhappy electorate. A dark shadow has been cast over the floors of the Assembly and Senate.

Problems Abound

In recent years the dropout rate of the Legislature has grown considerably. Truancy rates are high and some individuals spend as little as 2 years in the system before abruptly leaving. Already this session, some freshman have declared that they will not be coming back next year.

With tests on issues like healthcare, energy costs, and the economy in general, Legislators have continually failed their exams. Grades continue their decline as respect for the body diminishes.

Bringing Choice

The latest solution to these growing problems has been the creation of a "voucher" Legislature. Under this proposal, Legislators can choose to instead join a privately run "legislature" that will be modeled after a Corporate Boardroom.

Proponents have said that this will create competition between the public Legislature and the private Boardroom and hopefully push the public Legislature to a higher standard.

The new Corporate Boardroom SenateLegislator's will have their office budget and staff budget allotments paid by the state toward the Corporate Board through a "voucher." Private investments and contributions will also be allowed to help fund this venture. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is currently in the process of lining up corporate sponsors for the two Boardrooms. There has been no word as of yet on the awarding of naming rights to each Boardroom.

The Boardroom has already announced that law firm Vinson & Elkins will serve as both their Legislative Council and Legislative Reference Bureau. Some have questioned the hiring of this firm because of their history of service to Enron. Hired to investigate any problems or wrongdoings, Vinson & Elkins signed off on a smooth sailing ship. Two weeks later the largest bankruptcy in United States history was filed.

Following suit, Vinson & Elkins brought Arthur Andersen on board to serve as the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and Legislative Audit Bureau. Arthur Andersen expressed gratitude, citing the great synergy their company had with Vinson & Elkins while they served as Enron's accounting firm.

Instead of a Speaker or President, a CEO will be elected from amongst the board. In the same vein, constituent are now to be called "shareholders."

The new Corporate Boardroom AssemblyCurrently, the Corporate Board Room is set to be limited to 15% of the Senate and Assembly. Some have expressed concern, however, that this limit may be quickly reached and that we will be faced with a choice down the road of having to ration Legislators wishing to join the Corporate Boardroom. A small group has even expressed concern that the current public Legislature will be completely dissolved for this corporate-style leadership. Fortunately, those individuals have been ignored, quickly dismissed as freedom-haters and generally alluded to as racist.



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