Should use of taxes be limited to their stated purpose?


Lawyers in Wisconsin are fighting over $200 million that was withdrawn from a medical malpractice fund and spent on an unrelated government program. On one side of the debate are the lawyers who say that lawmakers should be able to spend taxpayer money in whatever way they see fit. On the other side of the debate are those who paid into the fund who are now seeing their money squandered elsewhere.

I'm squarely on the side of the doctors who paid into the medical malpractice fund. The fund was started in 1975, and doctors practicing in Wisconsin are required to pay into it each year. Doctors must have malpractice insurance that covers claims up to $1 million, and the fund pays awards in exceess of that.

I don't find a gray area in this case. The doctors paid a special tax (called a fee, but we know it's really a tax) for a special purpose. They deserve to have their dollars directed at exactly what the dollars were collected for.