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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wisconsin Budget Fails to Prepare for the Future

With the Wisconsin legislature poised to vote on the budget bill, analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau highlights the failure of Governor Jim Doyle and the Democratically controlled legislature to put the state's fiscal house in order and leave Wisconsin in a position to face future challenges. You can see the analysis at the WisPolitics budget blog.

As part of their analysis, the LFB looks ahead to the next budget cycle (2011-2013) and estimates the amount of money needed to produce a balanced budget under current law combined with the budget that is about to be enacted. The result is sobering:
for 2011-12, the general fund would need to generate $1,107 million in order to meet current commitments and those of ASA 1 to AB 75, maintain the required statutory balance, and balance the budget for that year. In 2012-13, $1,151 million ($44 million over the $1,107 million in 2011-12) would need to be realized. These amounts could be generated by revenue increases (growth or tax increases), appropriation reductions, or some combination of the two.
That is to say, Wisconsin is digging not one, but two $1.1 billion dollar holes for its future self.

If our governor and legislature are unable to curb spending in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, when will they ever stop spending? Even if you believe deeply in the stimulative power of government spending as antidote to recession, there was a better way for our state to respond. With the federal government engaged in a massive spending spree, Wisconsin could have used this opportunity to put its own fiscal house in order and let the federal government do the spending (and incur the debt) to help offset the economic downturn.

Wisconsin Democrats would have been wise to take a lesson from Rahm Emmanuel and not let this crisis go to waste. Spending should have been slashed and federal stimulus money used to reduce the pain on the most vital areas of spending. Instead, the stimulus money is partially offsetting the tax increases that are necessary to support continued high levels of government spending, but this is a one time only offer.

Filling this future budget hole with growth in the midst of a global economic downturn seems unlikely. The unwillingness to confront excessive government spending now will only make things worse in the future. There will eventually be a day when our state government is no longer able to kick the can down the road, apparently that day is not in 2009. See you in 2011.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wis is well prepared for a future of what two decades of bad budget planning have accomplished. The two largest industries are mass producing students, and baby sitting the incarcerated. Both state owned and operated industries. All budget decisions have been leading us to this time. Most have confused progressive with socialism. Now if we can keep the state paid retirees in the state contributing taxes...

auntie em said...

Not only has Doyle loaded the budget with fiscal nonsense, he's also inserted a lot of nonfiscal items, like joint and several liability (to please his trial lawyer buddies.) I'm sick of him! Which is why I spent this morning in Green Bay in the company of...THE BAD, RAD, DAD, AND JUST PLAIN MAD.

Morning rush hour. The Recall Doyle team was there, those of us that were Businessmen Against Doyle, Republicans Against Doyle, Democrats Against Doyle, and the just plain Mad Against Doyle. We got mostly thumbs-up, a few fingers, and a lot of fresh air!

Later, we assembled with a local Green Bay nonpartisan group and marched to the “magic street” down which the Obama-Doyle convoy would run. I had a chance to mix with the crowd, and talk to them about our common ground: a hatred of socialism, Big Bro, and deficits.

There were also differences, which I’d like to point out here, (of course with the object of rebutting them.) First, many folks didn’t know just how bad our state is. With a deficit over $1100 PER PERSON, WI is worse than CA which has a measly $500-something.

A huge source of confusion was the misperception that the Republican Party is supporting the recall effort. People were worried “they’ll use up all this money and then they won’t have enough to spend on a campaign.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As I countered, the “Republocrats” aren’t giving us a dime. This is a true grassroots movement! When asked, “Well, how is this funded?” I replied that we all chip in whatever we can, we all work other jobs, and WE ARE THE GRASSROOTS WHICH WILL MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

I understand a local radio talk show host, Jerry Bader, was helping spread this misinformation. IF this is true, shame on him for not checking out the facts first! Another erroneous idea was the thought that “this is doomed to fail.”

To bring facts to bear again, the Recall team has done quite a number of successful recalls already, and know how to do it. We are not jumping the gun; we are waiting till we have the right number of volunteers before attempting to collect signatures. If you like, we are “collecting volunteers” right now; later, we will collect signatures.

Another comment was, “Well, who’s going to run if Doyle gets booted?” The answer is anyone that can get the nomination papers signed! If you’re Democrat, how about Bob Ziegelbauer from Manitowoc County? If you’re Republican, why not Scott Walker? “Who’s going to run” should not be an issue, as once Doyle is out, the playing field will be level. Defeating an incumbent (Doyle) in an election will be ten times harder.

Right now, Doyle’s popularity is only 34%, counting ALL WI voters. Hear this? This includes Democrats! The recall is about getting him out while he’s down. It’s about making him an example: there couldn’t be an easier target right now. It’s about telling arrogant politicians and Party leaders, “We’ve had enough of being ignored by you.”

In other words, it’s about the power of the PEOPLE. Won’t you join us?