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Reality Check: Taxpayers Pay For Lobbying

Published On: Feb 21 2007 08:49:37 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 21 2007 08:55:15 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Wisconsin taxpayers are paying millions to lobby state lawmakers, in many cases, for more money.

VIDEO: Watch The Report

WISC-TV political reporter Colin Benedict calculated the cost in a "Reality Check."

Whether taxpayers like it or not, they are paying lobbyists to try to sway lawmakers' votes -- and it is for things that the taxpayer might or might not agree with.

For the 2005-2006 session, the total bill for taxpayer-funded lobbying is at least $4 million.

Many cities, towns and counties pay into an association which lobbies on behalf of them all. But some have their own lobbyists, like the city of Madison, which spent roughly $30,000 lobbying the Legislature.

The city argued against concealed carry legislation, against the marriage amendment and in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

Dane County does it too -- it spent nearly $175,000 last session, WISC-TV reported. Part of it was for more money from the state to pay for county nursing home patients, and Dane County argued against the taxpayer bill of rights.

Rock County spent about $6,400 on similar issues, WISC-TV reported.

Schools do this as well. The Madison Metropolitan School District spent $133,000 on lobbying, with some of the tax money spent trying to get more tax money into the classrooms.

The district is on record fighting against revenue limits and against limits to local control, WISC-TV reported.

And those amounts pale in comparison to the amount of money private groups spent. Private groups spent $58 million on lobbying last session.

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