Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:23 pm
Governor’s appointments reveal his agenda
These past few weeks in Madison will have seen various newly appointed executive branch heads spend more time in the Capitol listening to legislators than they will throughout the rest of their tenure.
It’s a one shot deal – lawmakers generally get the opportunity to closely question the department heads in state agencies only during a regime change. The vague answers you receive from those administrators are part of the ritual plea for Senate confirmation.
That’s not to say that one can’t get a good read on the actual policies those officials will be promoting.
The new secretary of the Department of Revenue, Michael Morgan, recently stated his intention to expand audit activities, especially targeting those with complicated tax returns who "might not be paying their fair share."
Donsia Strong Hill, Gov. Jim Doyle’s choice to head the Department of Regulation and Licensing, expressed a willingness to scrap the current fee structure for regulated professions, with an eye toward wholesale fee increases.
Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett has suggested massive hikes in license costs, while Frank Busalacchi, chosen to head up the Department of Transportation, is throwing his support behind a plan to double registration fees.
Beyond the obvious concern about the statements of new cabinet secretaries, the more subtle danger is in the selection of appointees to lead divisions within the departments.
The political theory that "personnel is policy" is nowhere more evident than in the selection of managerial bureaucrats within state agencies.
In one especially galling move, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman has tapped Micabil Diaz-Martinez, a lawyer for the ultra-left American Civil Liberties Union, to head up the department’s Equal Rights Division.
For those keeping score at home, the Equal Rights folks are the ones who prosecute wage-and-hour complaints, as well as the whole universe of discrimination and ADA concerns.
Both of these are small but significant examples of the Doyle administration’s real intentions with regard to business and taxation – nice speeches to the contrary notwithstanding.
The governor certainly has a right to fill out his administration with capable people of similar political beliefs, but their policies deserve a full review from legislators. So long as vital business interests are at stake, I will keep asking the tough questions and advocate for businesses struggling under the oppressive grip of an out-of-control bureaucracy.
State Sen. Tom Reynolds is a Republican from West Allis.
Feb. 21, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee