Monday, September 1, 2014

Pap reveals who the real takers are- corporations

When Mike Papantonio sat in for Ed Schultz on his radio show, I always thought that program went to another level, because Pap doesn't care who he ticks off, and doesn't mince words about just how much the oligarchs want to control in our society (which is all of it). And he doesn't let the average citizen off the hook for laying back and accepting this terrible state of affairs either.

Here's 5 minutes of brilliance that lays out how corporations steal the advances made possible by public goods and infrastructure and confiscate worker wages in the name of power, greed, and failed policy.



Myths were created about corporations and capitalism. A few of those myths were that a publicly held corporation has no duty to the public except to maximize profits for its shareholders. In other words, ignore the fact that the corporation could never exist without the roads, law enforcement, court systems, and military that tax payers provide the corporation so it can do business.

That myth ignored the billions of dollars the public spends every year on research and development that taxpayers dish out at universities through medical research, military research, agricultural research and hundreds of other areas where that corporation benefits from that research.
That's right, corporate America. You didn't make that- all of us did by paying our taxes, investing for the future, and working hard to improve our quality of life.

Let's see what themes our often corporate-friendly president hits on when he's in Milwaukee today. My guess is there will be talk about raising the minimum wage (which does need to be done), but will he mention trade or standing up to union-busting legislation? Sadly I doubt it.

Which means we'll have to do it ourselves. Ending the age of Fitzwalkerstan this November would be a start (but only a start).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Clearing up some budget confusion

I wanted to follow up on this week's revelation of the state's revenue shortfall of $281 million, and clear up a few conflicting items reported in the last few days.

The first tries to answer the question of "how much are we in the hole in Wisconsin? Here's what One Wisconsin Now put up on their whiteboard when the revenue numbers dumped on Thursday.



The Wisconsin State Journal story claimed the deficit was really $115 million, and even really smart dudes like UW Professor Menzie Chinn quoted the "$115 million deficit" figure. I replied in that Econbrowser article of Prof. Chinn's that I believe the real deficit for the 2015 fiscal year should be figured at $472 million based on the revenue shortfall, and here's my explanation for that (follow along with One Wisconsin Now's whiteboard if it helps you with the numbers).

When the LFB made their updated revenue projections in May 2014, after the latest round of Walker/WisGOP tax cuts was put in place, they figured we would end the 2014 fiscal year on June 30 with $14,229 million in tax revenues. Then they figured tax revenues would grow by 3.5% in FY 2015, based on the economy, inflation, and numerous other factors. Well, we haven't changed any laws that would change the rate of revenue growth in Wisconsin since then, so wouldn't it be logical to still assume a 3.5% increase in tax revenue, all other things being equal?

So we now know actual tax revenues came in at $13,948 ($281 million below what was predicted), and that would make the ending cash balance for FY 2014 at +$443 million, not the $724 that was originally projected.

A 3.5% increase from $13,948 = $14,436 in tax revenues FY 2015.

The old LFB prediction was 14,725 million for FY 2015

$14,725 - $14,436 = $291 million shortfall in FY 2015

If you plug that into the OWN whiteboard, it drops the total available for FY15 from $15,727 to $15,436.

$15,436 avail. - $15,843 appropriations = $407 million deficit

$407 million + $65 million in reserve = $472 million to be made up by June 30.

This is how one revenue miss compounds into further revenue misses, because you're starting from a lower number. This is also an explanation as to why I predicted this would balloon the 2015-17 structural deficit past $1.3 billion, if you plug the new revenue figures into other LFB calculations.

By the way, one other interesting note to bring up, courtesy of frequent blog commentator GeoffT. The two states run by Dems that border Wisconsin actually had revenue surpluses for the recently-completed fiscal year.

Minnesota was $168 million to the upside compared to its February projections, and $235 million better than what they predicted in April. The higher-than-expected revenues are noteworthy, because our neighbors to the west already had a projected $1.23 billion budget surplus BEFORE the higher revenues were known. This was mostly based on Minnesota's booming economy in 2013, the first year Dems resumed control of both houses of its Legislature (by comparison, Wisconsin had its lowest job growth of any of Walker's first 3 years in office in 2013, based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages).

Illinois was $43 million to the upside in FY14 compared to what it thought it'd have this Spring, Income and sales taxes both beat expectations, and Illinois ended up with $1.3 BILLION in surplus revenues compared to what their budget bill planned for Fiscal Year 2014. However, the FIBs still have a backlog of bills worth billions of dollars, and got downgraded by S&P last month not because of excessive spending, but because their state Legislature decided to roll back tax increases put in place in 2011 to cut into that backlog of bills. When even the banks are saying "you really shouldn't follow the ways of Koch-sas Kansas and cut taxes", both FIBs and cheeseheads should keep it in mind.

Keep those realities in mind when the Walker folks try to argue that their way is superior to the way things are done in "Democrat states." Because the two closest blue state governments outperformed deficit-ridden Wisconsin in 2014 when it came to bringing in tax revenues. And Wisconsin's path under Scott Walker seems a whole lot closer to "broke" Illinois' than surplus-laden Minnesota's.

No, it's not working. Not at all.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day- we need to turn the tables of the last 40 years

As we celebrate our 3-day weekend, let's take a moment to realize why we should celebrate Labor in America, and why we need the balance of power in this country to shift back toward the people who actually work. The numbers over the last 40+ years tell an obvious story.

Here’s a look at worker productivity, which has increased strongly and steadily since 1992.

Change in productivity, U.S.
1970Q2 - 1979Q2 +19.2%
1979Q2 – 1989Q2 +15.4%
1989Q2 – 1999Q2 +21.7%
1999Q2 – 2009Q2 +29.1%
2009Q2 – 2014Q2 +6.6%

But real incomes haven’t kept the same path, despite the theory of marginal product of labor, which says one should be paid in direct proportion to their increased productivity. Table B-15 of this year’s Economic Report of the President has this information

Change in real average hourly earnings, private sector U.S.
1970 - 1979 -0.5%
1979 - 1989 -7.8%
1989 - 1999 +3.5%
1999 – 2009 +7.4%
2009 – Dec 2013 -0.7%

Also, note that real average hourly earnings were down every month between March and May, and haven't risen since February. Only a slightly longer average work week has allowed real average weekly earnings to nudge up by 0.3% in the last 12 months. (don't spend it all in one place).

This flies in the face of the Marginal Revenue Productivity Theory of Wages, which says if you are able to crank out 10% more items and sell it at the same price, you should be paid 10% more. That hasn't even come close to happening.

On a related note, look at the decline in wages as a % of Gross Domestic Income since 1970 (scroll across to get the full info).



Now, compare it to the amount of corporate profits in the same time period (again, scroll across).



I don't think inflation has caused profits to go up to 23 times the amount that we had in 1970. Those changes didn’t happen in a vacuum. And neither did this.

% of workforce that were members of unions
1970 27.8%
1984 19.1%
1998 13.9%
2013 11.3%

There is a direct link to the lower rates of unionization, the lower share of wages going to workers, and the higher levels of corporate profits. And no, it hasn’t trickled down and made us all millionaires through Wall Street magic. This was a STRATEGY by corporate oligarchs to take away workers' power through union-busting and other "race to the bottom" maneuvers such as deregulation and outsourcing.

And it needs to change. NOW. There are far too many owners of businesses these days that resemble the Wanek family, who owns Ashley Furniture. These people claim they "can't compete" with other furniture businesses, get a $6 million tax write-off from the state for promising ONLY to lay off half of their workers, and then they kick back $20,000 to Scott Walker’s campaign for governor. All while the average worker at Ashley’s facility in Arcadia makes $10.88 an hour!

And oh yeah, the stock market keeps going up to record levels, as “job creators” decide they would rather gamble the money in the market. And the "free market" is manipulated, as the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average chose to spend to spend $211 billion in 2013 to buy back their own stock, in order to encourage other people to buy in. These choices are what our tax code and oligarchs encourage over actually paying the people that made those profits possible, and hiring more to increase production.

There are a few promising signs for 2014 so far, as wages and salaries were up 3.76% over the first seven months of the year (before inflation), but it’s not enough to kick the economy up to the next level. Increasing the minimum wage is far overdue, particularly given the lack of increases in wages from the “free market” over the last 5 years, a development that has helped to keep an economy reliant on consumption from returning to full employment.

We also need more workers to stand up and demand that they get back what they have put into their everyday work. Waiting for the corporate bosses to trickle-down a reward for you doing the right thing has not helped the vast majority of this country for the better part of two generations. So why not band together to receive what you have earned? It sure beats the way we’re going.

Friday, August 29, 2014

As the bell rings, why are there all these kids in the classroom?

Tuesday starts a new school year in Wisconsin, and the fallout from Act 10 and related Walker/WisGOP policies still reverberates today. The always-good State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has an excellent column discussing the numerous funding and staffing issues that schools throughout her Western Wisconsin district are facing this year.
Many public schools are forced to do more with less because lawmakers who voted for the last state budget increased state tax dollars to private schools. Nearly half of Wisconsin’s public schools will receive less aid this school year than the last – including many of our local schools.

Eau Claire received the largest dollar amount cut statewide – over $2.3 million while Pepin and Alma received the largest local percentage cuts - over 15%. At the same time, state aid per pupil going to private ‘voucher’ schools reached its highest point in state history.

In his letter, [Pepin Area School] Superintendent [Bruce] Quinton noted the difference between amounts of state aid for Pepin to that of private schools: for the 2014-15 school year Pepin receives $1,667 per student; public tax dollars to private ‘voucher’ schools are $7,856 per high school student and $7,210 per K-8 student.

“Pepin Area School District taxpayers will pay an additional $70,119 in taxes to educate children in other districts this school year,” Mr. Quinton wrote. “I cannot comprehend why taxpayers are willing to subsidize a private voucher school education system, especially when research indicates that private voucher schools perform at best as well as the public school system and in many cases below their public school peers.”
Vinehout also mentions that several districts in Western Wisconsin are facing school referenda that force citizens to choose between large property tax increases and the closing of schools and reduction in other education services.

The culprit in this is Scott Walker's education policies, which began by cutting state aids to public schools in 2011 and 2012, and continued by expanding the state's voucher program statewide. And the "tools" of Act 10 have not come close to offsetting these cuts, particularly in the smaller districts in rural Wisconsin.

Take a look at this map that shows the changes in state funding for 2014-15. Nearly half the districts in Wisconsin will have reductions in state aid for this year- more than 3 years after Act 10 took place.



Notice all the districts in red that are up North? Those districts are each looking at state aid cuts of more than 10% for this year, and will need to raise property taxes to make up for that difference. The beige-colored districts are also disproportionately away from the big cities, meaning that rural districts are facing the lion's share of funding difficulties for the upcoming year. Sure makes you wonder if that reality will sink into those areas before the November election, and if they'll realize that there's no payoff to denigrating teachers and destroying one of the few reasons to stay in these communities- strong public schools that develop strong communities.

And this is coming on the heels of public school services already being stressed. The Wisconsin Budget Project notes average class size increased 8% from 2004-05 to 2011-12, from 14.3 to 15.5, and Wisconsin teaching positions were reduced by 4,300 FTE in the sme time period. In the two years since, the DPI indicates that 500 FTE teachers have been hired back (meaning we're "only" down 3,800), but class sizes have stayed high, and the replacement of teachers has often been at the cost of numerous years of experience.

Some districts continue to bleed teachers as the teachers' current agreements run out, and they lose their voice over pay and work conditions. This was recently shown in the case of West Allis-West Milwaukee English teacher Eric Zentner, who was one of 139 teachers in the district to leave this Summer. Zentner quit after 18 years, and wrote a four page letter that described an administration that he felt was too busy trying to micromanage teachers after Act 10 took effect, instead of leaving it up to the judgment of the pros in the classroom.
He said new behavior policies that emphasize keeping kids in the classroom rather than sending them outside class when they disrupt the learning environment is difficult for teachers.

Teachers are also undermined by interesting content children can access on their iPads, and he said, they're limited in their ability to take away the devices.

Teachers are also urged to give students as many tries as necessary to complete assignments, and pass students even if they're not ready, he said.

Zentner said there appear to be more administrators in the building at a time when teachers are asked to attend more meetings, limiting their time for meaningful interactions with students.
As we start the 2014-15 school year, I'd ask you to treat your teacher with respect. They're underappreciated while being worked as hard as ever, likely taking home less pay than they did 4 years ago, and their districts are being squeezed by budget cuts from an ALEC-beholden Republican Party, who would love nothing more than to screw up public schools so they could justify funneling even more taxpayer dollars to corporate and religious private school operators. And despite the claims of Gov Walker and company, these policies will likely jack up your property taxes over the next two years.

So tell me, is it working?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jon Stewart, Kos Poster nail it on the white-wing bubble

This is one of the better Jon Stewart segments I've seen. It centers on the uprising over the last 3 weeks in Ferguson, Missouri, and the issues that have been brought to the surface as a result. Jon perfectly lays out both the double-standards on race and complete cluelessness about white privilege that apparently is part and parcel of being on Faux News.



(after white guys on Faux complain that black people don't deal with black-on-black violence and "take care of their own communities)
"Oh, that's right, because African-American leaders did hold a summit about that in November. And have met at least three times in the city just in the last 13 months. Which is not to say it's been effective, but taken along with the President's My Brother's Keeper initiative, which attempts to address this violence, and the countless vigils and marches within these violence-torn communities means they are trying, actually, to do something. You see, you being ignorant of those attempts doesn't mean the issue itself is being ignored. The same way that when it snows where you live doesn't mean the world isn't getting hotter."
And the ending thought is an amazing statement.
"I guarantee you that every person of color in this country has faced an indignity from the ridiculous, to the grotesque, to the sometimes fatal, at some point in their — I'm gonna say — last couple of hours. Because of their skin color.

Quick story. So we live in New York City, a liberal bastion. (Let me finish.) Recently, we sent a correspondent and a producer to a building in this liberal bastion, where we were going to tape an interview. The producer — white — dressed in what can only be described as homeless elf attire, and a pretty strong 5-o'clock-from-the-previous-week shadow, strode confidently into the building preceding our humble correspondent — a gentleman of color — dressed resplendently in a tailored suit. Who do you think was stopped? Let me give you a hint: the black guy.

And that shit happens all the time. All the time. Race is there, and it is a constant. You're tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.

And calling the divide in opinion over the events and fallout of things in Ferguson a black-white thing is being simplistic. An excellent Daily Kos column by a poster named "Vyan" lays out what the real separation is on the issues in Ferguson.
When 80% of Black people all tend to feel the same way, that's called being in agreement. When 37% of White people also feel that same way, that's an extension of that agreement. The Divide here is with the other 47% of White people who feel the other way about it.

And yes, most of those on one side tend to be Democrats while the others are Conservative Republicans. This isn't White vs Black. It's not even Left vs Right. It's provable Facts vs Deluded Bullshit.
PRECISELY. Seriously, read that whole thing- it's filled with some amazing stats on disparities and other facts of life for black people that white righties refuse to understand.

And it's part of the biggest problem in this country, where far too many people are literally in different existences, without a care of what happens with others. If you spend all your time listening to angry man radio and watching Faux News and don't talk to or know any people of color, you have no idea about how minorities are often picked up and put under suspicion for no reason other than their appearance, and have never had a similar experience yourself. Which allows you to be suckered into accepting the cops' side of the story, no matter how implausible, and resent those minorities and liberals who say these disparities are the result of racism.

When these white right-wingers start shooting off their mouths about race in America, they need to heed the great words of former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Mora: "You think you know, but you don't know. And you never will."

We really need to puncture the angry white-guy bubble, and make them realize the world is bigger and more complex than what they have been told to believe. Because this state and this country cannot continue with such a divide in the Reality-Based community, and the Faux-AM Radio Bubble.

Verified- a massive budget deficit in Wisconsin. Who'da thought?

Well, those Wisconsin revenue numbers we’d been waiting on finally dropped today. And as predicted, we’re now looking at a real and growing budget deficit in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin tax collections are more than $281 million short of estimates, nearly 2 percent less than anticipated.

The state Department of Revenue on Thursday released the figures for the fiscal year that ended in June. Those figures show the state collected $281.2 million less than was anticipated by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January.
Huh, who could have predicted something like that?

You can check out the details on this shortfall for yourself by clicking this link. How did we get here? The big culprit is the Koo-Koo tax cuts of 2013 and further cuts passed at the start of this year, which not only reduced tax rates, but also changed the withholding tables, meaning that less money came to the DOR from people’s paychecks. The cynical idea is that this would make voters more likely to back the Republicans this November with a few more dollars in their pockets (key word- few), and much of these withholding table changes will be counteracted by what you don’t get in tax refunds over the next 2 years (basically, your refund will be less, so the state “keeps” more. Conveniently, this doesn’t happen until after the November elections).

What does this do for our budget situation? Well, the State Journal rundown has one side of the story.
However, the budget was expected to have a roughly $724 million cushion by July 1, making emergency action now unlikely.

Gov. Scott Walker's spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says the state will finish the two-year budget cycle with a positive balance. She says, "As we have done in the last several years, we will continue to manage the Wisconsin taxpayers' money well and keep the state's fiscal house in order.”
BUUUUUT, there’s another side of that ledger. I will assume all other expenses and revenues remain the same, and the rate of revenue growth in 2014-15 to stay the same - even with the reality of a shortfall in Medicaid due to Walker’s TeaBagging of Obamacare, and the $25 million that the Potawatomi refused to pay the state in response to Walker’s shakedown of the tribes regarding the Kenosha casino. These are based on the LFB’s May projections, after the Koo-Koo tax cuts were passed into law.

Wisconsin Gen Fund budget after revenue shortfall

2013-14
Opening balance +$759 million
Taxes and other revenues +$14,529 million
Net Appropriations -$14,865 million
2014 ENDING BALANCE +$443 MILLION

2014-15
Opening balance +$443 million
Taxes (3.49% growth) and other revenues +$14,994 million
Net Appropriations -$15,843 million
ENDING BALANCE -$406 MILLION
Required reserves -$65 million
TOTAL TO BE MADE UP BY 6/30/15 $471 MILLION

Sorry, Laurel Patrick, but we are far from on pace to finishing this budget with “our fiscal house in order.” I understand honesty isn’t a Walker Admin official’s top priority, but couldn’t you at least run the math before you try to BS people?

And the revenue shortfall means things get significantly worse in the next budget. I’ll continue to use the LFB projections from May, including their assumptions of no changes of revenue or spending through growth, just current law.

2015-16
Taxes and other revenues +$15,116 million
Net Appropriations -$15,732 million
ENDING BALANCE -$616 MILLION

2016-17
Taxes and other revenues +15,038 million
Net Appropriations -$15,744 million
ENDING BALANCE -$706 MILLION

This means a budget deficit of $1.322 BILLION lying in wait for the next 2-year cycle. And if we see any more slippage in this year (very possible with low job growth and higher expenses being revealed by the day), this number grows higher.

So we’ve now seen a repeat of the Tommy Thompson and George Bush idiocy of 2001, where a one-time surplus has been blown by short-sighted tax cuts, and now we have a widening budget deficit as a result. It also blows apart a major theme Gov Walker has tried to repeat during this campaign- that his austerity budget moves and tax cutting has left the state better off fiscally. It has not, and in fact, our hands are tied much more than they were when Walker took office in 2011.

That reality has yet to sink in to many Wisconsin voters, as shown in yesterday’s Marquette Law School Poll. Check out the responses of Registered Voters to this question.

Would you say the state's budget is in better shape now than it was a few years ago, about the same or in worse shape now?
Better shape 44.9%
About the same 26.4%
Worse shape 22.5%
Don’t Know/Refused 6.1%

Interestingly, 48% of that same poll’s respondents correctly noted that Wisconsin is growing jobs slower than the rest of the nation, a higher number than in previous Marquette polls. Somehow I’m thinking if the Dems and Mary Burke gave them this budget information in an ad blitz similar to their recent “last in the Midwest for jobs” meme, that 45% who wrongly think our budget is in better shape would be reduced significantly. And that would be especially true of the low-info or “mis-info” types that would be the most likely to desert Walker over the next 10 weeks if they could find out that it really isn’t working.

So there are your numbers. Pass em on and TELL THE TRUTH.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Did Walker just admit to a massive budget deficit?

Another day, another Walker screw-up, and it’s not for the reason you might think.

A top story in today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discussed a letter Gov Walker and Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch released relating to the proposed casino in Kenosha. In typical “Unintimidated” fashion, Walker and Huebsch released the letter 1 day before Racine and Kenosha-area Dem legislators were going to hold a press conference calling Walker out for not approving the Menominee Nation’s casino (funny how those things work with this crew).

In between a bunch of “blame Jim Doyle” whining (as if the terms of gaming compacts had been somehow changed in the year that Walker’s administration has been reviewing the casino proposal), there was this startling revelation.
The Potawatomi has failed to make its annual revenue sharing payment that was due June 30, 2014. This had already had a significant revenue impact on the State of Wisconsin.

It is still unclear how the compacts negotiated by Governor Doyle with the Potawatomi will play out. It appears the complicated provisions may have been designed to block a Kenosha casino. It is possible the impact of the Doyle compact provisions will not be fully known until early January. We do know the proposed Kenosha casino project is very likely to impact out State budget. This proposed project has already caused significant short-term revenue losses due to Potawatomi’s failure to make its revenue sharing payment. As we continue to evaluate the long-term effects on our State budget and Wisconsin’s economy as a whole, one thing is clear – taking action on the proposed Kenosha casino project prior to following the processes laid out in the Doyle compacts could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Part of the reason the state and the Potawatomi are at loggerheads is because a Kenosha-based casino would likely cut into the business of Potawatomi’s casino and new hotel near downtown Milwaukee (less than 40 miles away), and they want some reimbursement as a result. As the Potawatomi noted in their own statement
According to the terms of the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s compact, the Tribe may get a reduction in, or refund of, the payments made to the State of Wisconsin should the State approve another casino within 50 miles of the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.The State may end up owing Potawatomi money should the Kenosha casino be approved. Consequently, Potawatomi put its 2014 state compact payment into a segregated / reserve account.
In other words, the tribe feels it’s pointless to send the state a payment (estimated by the Journal-Sentinel to be around $25 million) when the state would likely be paying it back to them anyway if the Kenosha casino is approved.

This is also a good example of the tribe calling Walker’s bluff, as there is little doubt in my mind that Walker held off on making a decision about the Kenosha casino in no small part because it allowed him to raise campaign funds from groups in support and opposition to the facility being built. The Potwatomi is now using their leverage by refusing to pony up to the state for Fiscal Year 2014, and Scotty and company were caught with their pants down.

But there’s a bigger issue here. How would the Potawatomi’s skipping of a year of payments to the state cause any sort of budget crisis? A quick look at the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s information on Indian gaming shows that the state’s tribes were set to pay the state just over $53.25 million to the state in fiscal year 2013-14. Of that amount, $27.3 million goes to other state agencies (for tribal-related programs and other assistance), and $26.26 million gets sent to the state’s General Fund. So if you assume the agencies still get their money, the state has a revenue shortfall of $25 million.

But in the big picture, so what? The current budget (post-tax cuts) has a $100 million surplus already built into it, and is supposed to start fiscal year 2014-15 $724 million ahead. This $25 million short-term loss might be an inconvenience, but it’s a miniscule amount of the overall General Fund budget that’s over $30 BILLION. Heck, we’re at least $93 million in the hole for Medicaid right now, and Walker and WisGOP are tossing away $206 million in savings this year by refusing to use the ACA’s provision to expand Medicaid. How does this $25 million all of a sudden put us over the edge and in danger?

The only way this is true is if the budget was already blown up before the missed Potawatomi payment came to light. The problem is that we don’t know how much the budget may be screwed up, because the Department of Revenue has refused to release the end-of-the-year collections for Fiscal Year 2014. 4 Dem Senators needled the DOA Secretary Huebsch this week for the delay, noting that the numbers were already out this time last year, when the revenue numbers looked good for Gov Walker and the Wisconsin GOP. These Senators followed up today with a note to their Senate Dem colleagues, predicting the Walker Administration would dump the revenue numbers on Friday, ahead of the Labor Day holiday, in an attempt to bury the bad news.

The Wisconsin Budget Project was a little more sanguine, noting that a similar delay happened two years ago, but adding that the DOR has left out some data they usually provide.
Although the Senators’ letter was correct that the tax collection figures for FY 2012-13 were released sooner last year, that hasn’t been the case every year. For example, the FY 2011-12 numbers were released on September 5, 2012. For me, the bigger disappointment this year was that DOR didn’t release tax collection numbers specifically for June, as it did the prior year (in this July 12, 2012 press release). Although DOR hasn’t always issued a comparable set of June tax figures, the revenue trends this year have made it frustrating not to have any update since the May tax collection numbers.

That said, I think any questions about the timing of the revenue numbers for the last fiscal year will soon be inconsequential – once those numbers are released. I applaud the Senators for drawing attention to the fact that these are important figures to be watching for, and for asking the DOA Secretary what the state will do if there is indeed a revenue shortfall.
There definitely seems to have been some kind of budgetary shortfall for Fiscal Year 2014, and I’ve noted that the cash balance for the end of that fiscal year was nearly $546 million below what was estimated in March. Now that doesn’t necessarily correspond to what the General Fund totals might be, but if Scott Walker is claming that the Potawatomi’s missed payment of approximately $25 million is throwing the budget into turmoil, then we may be in much worse shape than we knew, and the General Fund budget holes to be closed might be much more than the $1.1 billion I’ve previously estimated.

As usual with the Walker boys, it's not the immediate issue (a missed Potawatomi payment of $25 million), but is instead the underlying issue (budget deficit) that's the real problem.