The Well Runs Dry

As expected, a weak economy, despite four years of talk about spending to create jobs, jobs, jobs means that Wisconsin can expect no additional state revenue to lessen the impact of cuts to education, etc. 

In fact, revenue projections are below estimates.

Here’s the news from the Journal Sentinel this morning (emphasis added):

Madison — State lawmakers can’t count on any additional money to bail them out of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office reported Wednesday.

For months, the GOP governor and Republicans who run the Legislature have said they believed the state would take in more money over the next two years than originally projected, allowing them to prevent or mitigate cuts proposed by Walker for K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin System.

But the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported Wednesday that it believed the initial estimates would hold.

In a memo to lawmakers, Bob Lang, the veteran head of the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, said that tax revenues for this fiscal year are actually running slightly behind projections.

During this fiscal year ending on June 30, tax revenues were expected to grow by 3.7% and so far they are growing at a rate of 3.4%, the fiscal bureau reported.

This year may yet pick up slightly but meanwhile the national economy now appears set to grow at a slower rate than expected over the 2015-’17 budget, leaving no reason to look for more money, Lang reported.

That means lawmakers will have to stick with Walker’s cuts or find others, raise taxes or fees or use borrowing and accounting tricks or some combination of those things. Republican leaders have stood firmly against raising taxes, leaving them few sustainable options except to make cuts….

This is a problem for Wisconsin all around: (1) less for what’s most needed, (2) no appetite among state leaders for reducing what they have mistakenly prioritized, and (3) a climate in which any cuts are stigmatized as bad cuts.

That’s where big-government conservatism has left this state: a stagnant economy, a continuing state fiscal mess, spending and cutting priorities that most residents reject, and no certainty of much better next year, either.

For those who genuinely want smaller government, and who would have cut hundreds of millions in big-ticket road-building, who would have eliminated the WEDC, who would have reduced the size of the state workforce rather than shift costs locally, these are frustrating times. 

This budget could have been balanced differently.  Yet here we are.

To each and every big-government conservative, to each and every Republican who has been more like Nixon than Goldwater, to every proud so-called conservative in Whitewater who’s extended his clammy hands for another treat, gobbling whatever he could find: you have only yourselves to blame for this. You betrayed better principles for nothing more than a few lying headlines in an unread local paper.

Handed a golden opportunity after Gov. Doyle, these few have thrown it away on big spending of a different kind. 

Those of us, libertarians and others who have never been under the sway of a major political party, who have always believed truly and sincerely in smaller, limited government, will be here long after this mediocre class of self-promoters and self-dealers finds all its work consigned to the trash. 

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The Phantom Stranger
5 years ago

Wandering Walker has gutted our State, and is obsessed with the Presidency.
If he does not win the nomination, or is selected as a Veep choice, or does win the nomination but loses the election—there will be even more Hell to pay…
God Save Wisconsin.