By State Representative, Leon D. Young
The Wisconsin transportation fund now faces a gargantuan $939 million shortfall, but Scott Walker says he will not raise taxes or fees to fund the transportation projects, despite calls from Republican lawmakers to consider doing so, along with other options.
With that being the case, Walker’s administration has proposed a new wrinkle to the contentious voter ID requirement. The plan is the stamp “voting purposes only” on the free IDs the state makes available, which will make it harder for people to use them for personal business like opening a bank account or to prove their identity when they pick up their children from day care.
State officials believe the changes would prompt more people to pay for IDs that can be used more widely, thus increasing transportation funding by nearly $1 million over two years. But, therein lies the problem, the poor and the elderly would (once again) be disproportionately impacted by the issuance of this new generic voter ID card.
The irony, or deception, in all this is that Scott Walker alleges that he doesn’t intend to raise taxes or increase fees in order to address the transportation funding crisis. However, the truth is that’s exactly what he is doing in proposing a plan to issue a free voter ID card for voting purposes only.
Poor and elderly residents would now have to incur a $28 charge for a state ID that would allow them to use as a form of personal identification.
Since being enacted in 2010, Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement has faced a number of legal challenges in the courts.
And, in order to withstand constitutional scrutiny, it was determined that the state should provide free voter ID cards to indigent residents, in order to remove the appearance of having to pay a “poll tax” before being allowed to vote.
This new voter ID card would skirt this constitutional argument, but does nothing to alleviate the financial burden of our less fortunate neighbors. Moreover, it would seem that Scott Walker has no qualms about raising transportation fees on certain groups of people who he feels oppose him politically.