Monday, September 15, 2014

Wall Street says high inequality, Walker Way is hurting state budgets

As a former resident of the Hoosier State, I found this article of interest today. Indiana has a 7% statewide sales tax rate, with local sales taxes pushing that number as high as 9% in cities like Indianapolis, and the S&P report indicates that this fact has led to a lot of fiscal pressure in the state over the last 35 years.
That sales tax is Indiana's largest source of revenue. But it is tied to consumer spending, and Americans have become increasingly reluctant to spend as median incomes have remained virtually stagnant over the past 30 years.

"It's by the far the largest source of revenue for the state, and it's so economically sensitive that if the economy's not doing well, it shows up pretty quickly in the state's revenue," said John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.

The S&P report said Indiana's overall tax revenue grew by an average of 9.29 percent a year between 1950 and 1979 — the year that the gap between the most affluent Americans and the rest of the nation began growing.

Indiana's average annual tax revenue growth has fallen every decade since, dropping to 4.35 percent between 2000 and 2009, the report found. Annual revenue growth has fallen even lower since 2009, to 3.24 percent.
The S&P report was just released today, and you can take a look at it yourself by clicking here. The upshot of the report is that many states are quite dependent on sales taxes to raise their revenues, and because of increasing inequality and a higher share of income going to the rich, state tax revenues aren’t as likely to increase as much as economic growth would indicate it would. This is because the rich are less likely to spend as much of their money from increased income as the middle and poorer classes.

In addition, S&P stated that states with higher amounts of income going to the 1% were less likely to see the fruits of that growth.
Our regression model measured the annual percentage changes in state tax revenues since 1980 for the 50 individual states as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. The independent variables included the following for each state:

•Income concentration in the top percentile (measured by the share of total adjusted gross income going to the top one percentile), (2)
•Annual rate of total personal income growth, and
•Annual percentage change in the state coincident economic indicators index (a summary of four main statistics), compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (3)

As expected, the results from this regression analysis found a positive relationship between changes in both overall personal income and the coincident economic indicators index and state tax revenues. Regarding the income inequality measure, we found a negative relationship, consistent with our hypothesis…. That is, a one-unit increase in the share of income going to the top percentile had a negative impact on tax revenue growth, holding personal income growth and the state coincident economic indicators index constant. All of these findings were statistically significant at the 1% level.
S&P also compared the effect on tax revenues between states with the top 10 income tax rates, and the top 10 sales tax rates. What they found is that the effect of “more money to top 1% = lower tax revenue” is nearly three times larger in high sales tax states than in high income tax states. On the flip side, the high income tax states seem to get a larger revenue benefit from higher personal incomes and general economic growth. In S&P's study, 0% income tax states like Florida, Washington and Tennessee have had lower increases in revenues since 2000 compared to the 10 states that are most dependent on income tax for revenues. Indiana has also lagged those income tax-reliant states for revenue growth since 2009, despite the Hoosier State's strong rebound in jobs due in part to the Obama Recovery being especially strong in the Midwest (well, except for Walker's Wisconsin).

With that in mind, it is interesting that red states have pushed higher sales taxes as a way to offset income tax cuts they’ve laid on in recent years, with the argument being that a better economy (through lower income taxes and trickle-down) will raise sales, and therefore offset the income tax cuts. This S&P report shows the exact opposite to be true – especially if the gains from any growth go to the top 1% (as they have been more likely to do as income taxes on the rich have been lowered over the last 35 years).

Keep this in mind when you hear Scott Walker’s insane promise of expanding the current tax cuts if Wisconsin voters are foolish enough to give him a second term. There's not any room for tax cuts with a $1.8 billion budget deficit caused by Walker's earlier income tax cuts anyway, but further income tax breaks would likely be offset by higher sales taxes and other ALEC-like revenue gimmicks. Remember last December when the Walker Administration floated an idea about reducing Wisconsin income taxes to 0%, and people realized that it meant the sales tax rate would have to be raised to 13%? You can bet a version of that is being cooked up in the backrooms of Walker’s fiscal policy team (also known as the members of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and ALEC).

Maybe we should ask about that, after Walker’s silly pose of a “jobs plan” got released over the weekend – basically a lot of whining about Jim Doyle and doubling down of the same failed policies that led to the worst job growth in the Midwest from 2011-2013 and the growing budget deficit that we see today. Because the Walker Way would likely make our growing fiscal deficit even worse and leave the state in a position to have its debt downgraded, it would then mean drastic cuts with the selling of state assets to make up the difference resulting from such a revenue shortfall.

Oh wait, drastic service cuts and the selling off state assets to campaign contributors investors IS part of the ALEC plan. So maybe the Walker folks aren’t that na├»ve that they still buy into trickle-down after 35 years of evidence shows income tax cuts do not increase revenue. Maybe they’re just that cynical that they think the rubes will fall for their BS, while they and their allies steal their way out of town with a whole lot of our cash in their pockets.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

J-S tries again to Politi-crap us on the budget

I'm really getting tired of having to correct the Journal-Sentinel's Wisconsin Politi-"fact", but apparently I still have to, based on two awful analyses that seem to indicate that the corporate owners of the J-S have given orders to skew their ratings to favor the Wisconsin GOP as much as possible.

1. First, Politi-"fact" decided to look at the claims of GOP Senator and Joint Finance Committee co-chair Alberta (Dingbat) Darling.
"Wisconsin does not have a deficit," Darling said in a news release, which was issued with GOP Rep. John Nygren of Marinette. "Thanks to Republican reforms, the 2014 budget will begin with a $443 million surplus."
First, Politi-crap's Tom Kertscher accepts that $443 million number as fact, and THAT IS WRONG. The assumption is based on the $281 million revenue shortfall from Fiscal Year 2014 being combined with the projected year-end surplus of $724 million, as illustrated by the One Wisconsin Now whiteboard.

But there are a whole lot more variables that go into that year-end number. See that Tribal Gaming figure? We now know that much of that $24 million didn't come in for FY 2014, because the Potawatomi skipped their payment to the state in payback for Gov Walker trying to shake down tribes for campaign donations in return for approval of a casino in Kenosha. We also have not seen the final expense numbers for Fiscal Year 2014, because that's part of the state's Annual Fiscal Report (AFR), which won't be released for another month. Given that we already know that we have a sizable shortfall in Medicaid, and the higher plowing and energy costs from the polar vortex winter, it is likely that expense number will be higher than what was projected.

So how can "$443 million year-end surplus" possibly be accepted as fact with these variables hanging out there? I sure wouldn't do that, but Politi-crap's Tom Kertscher does in making his "analysis". Strike one.

Here's the next screw-up. We CURRENTLY DO HAVE A DEFICIT, because we're not in fiscal year 2014 anymore - Fiscal Year 2014 ended on June 30. Sure that's semantics, but Politi-crap has frequently downgraded claims for wrong verb tense (especially if they come from Dems). We are now in Fiscal Year 2015, which is projected to look as follows, based on the most recent LFB release.

Wisconsin budget picture, FY 2015
Starting balance based on revenues only +$443 million
Fiscal Year 2015 balance -$839 million
Ending balance for 2013-15 budget -$396 million

We do not know for sure that we ended the year with a $443 million surplus, that's just a projection based on revenues only. And the State of Wisconsin's General Fund is slated to spend more than it takes in for Fiscal Year 2015, and end the two-year budget with a negative balance. That is a deficit both ways. These are not debatable figures, but Kertscher and Politi-crap somehow makes it debatable.
The second year of the current 2013-’15 budget -- what Darling refers to as the 2014 budget -- did begin with a $443 million surplus.

But the year is expected to end with a $396 million shortfall, and the next biennium -- 2015-’17 -- is projected to start with a $1.8 billion shortfall.

Darling’s statement is partially accurate, but leaves out a lot of context. Our rating is Half True.
GARBAGE! A "$443 million surplus" is "mostly false" at best, for reasons shown above.

2. Now compare this to another analysis Politi-crap pulled in light of a comment that Senate Dem leader Chris Larson made.
"Over the next two years," the Milwaukee Democrat said in a Sept. 8, 2014 news release, "this $1.8 billion deficit will cost individual Wisconsinites $300 each, or $1,200 for families of four."
So Kerstcher and company asked "Where does the number come from?" And the answer is relatively simple.

Projected deficit- $1.766 billion
Wisconsin 2013 population- 5,742,712
Deficit per person- $307.52
Deficit per 4 people- $1,230

Seems pretty straightforward. Oh, but NOW Mr. Kertscher decides to add in some variables.
But breaking down the size of the projected deficit to a per-person level in no way means individuals or families will have to pay those amounts.

In fact, Larson spokesman Fred Ludwig told us Larson was referring to "cost" in a broad sense -- that a $1.8 billion shortfall would mean people would experience either tax increases or cuts in services....

Our rating

Larson said: "Over the next two years, this $1.8 billion deficit will cost individual Wisconsinites $300 each, or $1,200 for families of four."

No decisions will be made until well after the November 2014 elections on whether to raise revenue or cut spending in order to close the $1.8 billion gap, which is an estimate for the 2015-’17 state budget cycle. And it’s possible that, based on tax collections, the $1.8 billion figure could change.

We rate Larson’s statement False.
WHAT THE FUCK? In the Darling case, Politi-crap just accepts the claim of a $443 million surplus without the caveat that those numbers could be different when the AFR comes out in October. But when Larson gives the $1.8 Billion projection, then Kertscher and company says "Well, those numbers could be different." What's with the double-standard? And instead of doing straight-up division, NOW Politi-crap is adding in details like "burden of taxes" or "targeted spending", and saying that doesn't necessarily apply. I'm not saying it's bad to do so (we should consider that when we talk about fiscal policy), but Politi-crap sure didn't care about variables when they analyzed Dingbat Darling's statements.

That is pathetic, and I reiterate my conclusion about Politi-crap that I made last month (ironically, in an article that was later quoted by Politi-crap backing up my claims). These guys are under orders from their management at JournalComm to make the blatant lies of Walker and WisGOP somehow equivalent to the fact-based spin of Burke and the Dems, in an obvious attempt to curry favor with the right-wing elements that stand to give JournalComm big ad money over the next 2 months.

It is disgraceful, and Mr. Kertscher, the scope is on you, because you know better than this. You can tweet him at @tkertscher or email him at, and find out why this guy's refusing to play it fair.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

And now, a few words on voter ID

Like most people with an ounce of decency and sense of fairness, I am outraged by yesterday's Appeals Court panel that reinstated voter ID for the November elections in Wisconsin. And not just because of the outcome, but the fact that it took a handful of hours after hearing arguments to have this 3-person crew make their decision. That seems to indicate the fix was in, and you sure wonder what's going on behind the scenes with these people, much like with the Randa decision on John Doe (interestingly, that case was heard on Tuesday and a decision has yet to be made).

And get a load of the GOP judges' "reasoning".
During arguments Friday, Judge Frank Easterbrook, a Ronald Reagan appointee, cited figures that 2.4 percent of whites in Wisconsin can't obtain the needed ID to vote, while 4.5 percent of blacks can't. He asked whether that 2 percent gap between whites and blacks makes the law discriminatory.
Well given that it makes black people almost TWICE AS LIKELY TO BE AFFECTED, yeah I'd say that's discriminatory. Especially when we know the people pushing the most for voter ID are racist white Republicans from suburban Milwaukee, and their spokespeople on AM radio.

But the most absurd part about this ruling is that it's put into effect less than 8 weeks before the November election. And a sizable amount of Wisconsinites have already registered under the old rules.

So are these people able to be disenfranchised, despite already being in the equivalent of the voting booth? That development alone tells me that voter ID may be stopped before the election, because you can't have two different sets of rules for registration for the same election. Maybe this stupid, racist law is upheld for future elections, but it makes no sense that it would be in place for November.

But there's a side effect here. I'm angrier than ever at this Wrecking Crew known as the Wisconsin GOP, and it makes me even more determined to take extra steps to get people informed about voting, and to kick these people's asses in November. And in judging from posts on Facebook and Twitter, I am far from the only one, and this is the type of decision that drives casual people into caring about the election, and bringing their buddies to vote Dem along with them. It better, because these bastards will not do the right thing until they are shut down at the voting booth.

Unlike the song's title, I encourage you to get mad AND get even. But it's a good excuse to play a good tune, especially since yesterday was the 25th anniversary of PUMP being released (which is a solid 10th grade memory for this guy)

P.S. This is also more evidence that we need to have federal judges on 10-year terms, subject to a maximum of one renewal. These people think they're bulletproof and can make up whatever shit they want. They need to be brought back to reality and some sense of accountability. And our House members have to start putting impeachment on the table if these people are getting out of hand. That procedure is there for a reason.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday fun- Get out of the ditch!

Yes, I'm a more than a little upset over the Voter ID ruling (especially when it involves changing rules after military and others have likely had their absentee ballots sent out). But whatever, it's another desperate maneuver by a Wisconsin GOP that can't win the Election based on their record. It'll be beat back.

And speaking of desperate WisGOPs, here's an excellent response by the American Bridge group to the ridiculous Scott Walker ad that came out yesterday. Yeah Scotty, I think your metaphor failed.

Have a good Badger bye weekend, all. If you can stand the fact that it's suddenly turned into November.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

No, we're not going to grow our way out of Walker's deficit

A meme that righties have been trying in light of the state's future budget deficit has been, "There's no need to worry because we'll add enough revenues to grow our way out of the hole." Anmd if you don't know your economic history and are relatively low-info, you might give that theory the benefit of the doubt. State Sen. Dave Hansen decided to check it out, and exposed that theory as bullshit.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau average annual revenue growth since 1993 has only averaged 3.3% and since 2011 annual revenue growth has fallen from 4.7% to -1.0%, suggesting that it is highly unlikely the state will see the required 6.5% annual revenue growth needed to overcome the state’s nearly $1.8 billion deficit.

Since 1993 the state has seen annual revenue growth over 6.0% just six times. All but two of those years occurred between 1993 and 2000 with the state seeing revenue growth of 6.1% in 2004-05 and revenue growth of 6.4% in 2010-11.

“While we would all like to see our economy take off, history suggests revenue growth meeting the 6.5% growth needed to resolve the budget crisis is unlikely to happen,” said State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).
Actually, I have a slight quibble with Sen. Hansen's numbers, as based on the projected budget needs from the LFB, it's actually 6.4%, but that's still a lot to make up.

FY 2014 tax revenues $13,948 million
Ending FY2014 balance (all other numbers the same) +$443 million
Tax revenues needed for $0 balance in FY2015- $14,841 million
Tax revenue increase needed in FY2015 - +6.40%

As Sen. Hansen noted, the only time in the last decade that Wisconsin has had an increase in revenue that reached 6.4% was in 2010-11, under the Doyle/Dem budget. This included strong job growth in 2010 that was above the levels of any of the 3 years during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, and also included income tax increases on the rich (funny how those things work). Of course, that’s a revenue increase we only found out about after Walker claimed the state was “broke” and had to “repair” that budget, leading to the “bomb” of Act 10. Interesting that they demanded immediate action back then but are letting things play out this time.

After 2010-11, you have to go all the way back to the dot-com Clinton year of 1999-2000 to find a higher increase in tax revenue in one year in Wisconsin. So “growing our way out of the hole” is not a likely result. This means spending cuts will have to occur over the next 9 ½ months. And the Walker Administration is out of options for the short-term.

· Local governments and school districts have made their budgets based on a certain amount of state aid for 2015, which is accounted for in this year’s state budget. These local budgets will be approved in the next 8-10 weeks, and communities such as Appleton and Chippewa County are adding wheel taxes and other fees just to stay afloat in light of previous state aid cuts and higher costs from the polar vortex winter. These communities’ budgets would become massively messed up if the state took some of these previously-agreed-to aids away. So that’s not a likely solution.

· The state could cut some of the $144 million of General Fund money it is projected to send to the State Transportation Fund. $107.5 million of this was added on by the GOP-led Joint Finance Committee during budget negotiations (see Page 5 of this document), as a way of removing a projected Transportation Fund deficit in this budget. But removing the transfer to the Transportation Fund would likely put it under major pressure, and Steven Walters in Urban Milwaukee notes that Assembly Speaker Robbin’ Vos is already fearful that there is no way that transportation needs can be funded, and that’s assuming some kind of transfer continues. Cutting this $144 million transfer would also make the possible $1.1 billion Transportation Fund deficit in the next budget even worse.

· An employee increase of 1% of salary (WOO-HOO! 1%) and related fringe benefit costs are already “baked in the cake”. Kinda hard to take those back when workers are already getting them (it’s been in place since July 1), and when health plans and other benefits are starting up annual enrollment in the next month. If there are any personnel costs to be cut by the state, it would likely be through delaying hiring (in a time of large turnover and needs), and/or the return of furloughs.

With those three options being very tough to navigate, that means we are likely to see lapses above the $317 million already built into the budget, along with additional cuts to state services. Which is why Dem State Senators sent a letter to DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch this week demanding to see what the Walker’s Administration’s plan would be when it comes to making these cuts. Obviously, that’s a political stunt by the Dems, since this “Unintimidated” administration doesn’t have to do anything about this deficit in the FY 2015 until after this November’s elections (and therefore, won’t do anything about it). But it’s a good stunt, because the people should know that it is extremely unlikely for the state to solve this budget problem relying only on revenue growth. So don’t let the right-wing propaganda machine try to BS you into thinking this budget deficit isn’t a big deal and that there’s plenty of time to correct it. This deficit is likely to be more than $400 million this year, and after that’s fixed, there’s probably a whole lot more to make up in the next 2 years, since we'll be starting from a lower revenue base, and any one-time cuts or revenue moves in FY 2015 won’t carry over to the next budget.

Along with trying to buy votes, I firmly believe that part of the idea behind the Koo-Koo tax cuts of 2013 and the additional Stupid Tax Cuts of 2014 was that the Walker folks and his puppetmasters planned to have a budget crisis for the 2015-17 budget. Doing so would enable them to try some other privatization scheme or steal from workers’ pensions or some other crookedness. But they weren’t counting on the numbers in FY 2014 to come in low, leading to a budget deficit appearing before the election, and now they’re flailing around trying to spin their way out of the hole that they've put us in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

John Doe is about money laundering. PERIOD

As the Court of Appeals in Chicago determines what to do with the John Doe case (and reports indicate that these judges think federal Koch whore Judge Rudolph Randa may have overstepped his authority by even making a ruling on the case), the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's Mike McCabe sums John Doe up perfectly in a column he wrote yesterday. It's titled "Decriminalizing Bribery and Money Laundering," because as McCabe points out, the real goal of Walker and his oligarchical supporters is to be able to give as much money as they want, without people knowing about it.
Randa is the judge who also ordered a halt to the latest John Doe investigation into political corruption in Wisconsin. He ruled that there is nothing illegal about candidates and interest groups coordinating their election activities.

"Coordination" sounds abstract and mundane and benign. What Randa actually blessed is money laundering. What is under investigation is apparent conspiracy to get around legal limits on political donations as well as disclosure requirements by steering money intended to aid a candidate for state office to a tax-exempt "social welfare" group that does not have to publicly report the origins of its money.

If the skewed judgment of Randa and the Five Supremes stands up over the long haul, Americans will be left with a right to free speech that is proportionate to the size of their bank accounts, two parties joined at the billfold, and a tiny fraction of 1% of the population fully empowered to lord over the rest of us.

Yeah, I'd say having Scott Walker (allegedly) tell rich people to "invest" in his campaign through Club for Growth sounds a whole lot like this.

That may be one of my favorite YouTube clips ever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

That $1.8 billion budget deficit? It could be even worse

Now that I have some time back at home, I can go over the details of yesterday's news of a looming $1.8 billion budget deficit for the state of Wisconsin. That number's above the $1.3 billion I predicted a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to show how the Legislative Fiscal Bureau got to that point.

If you take a look at the memo that LFB Director Bob Lang wrote to Dem legislators. Lang says the deficit is directly tied to tax cuts passed by the GOP Legislature and signed by Governor Walker, beginning with the $281 revenue shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30.
Information on final expenditures and departmental revenues that will also affect the ending balance for 2013-14 will not be available until the state's Annual Fiscal Report (AFR) is released in mid-October. However, focusing on the lower tax collections data, it should be noted that IHS Global Insight, Inc.'s national economic forecast has been downgraded significantly since the state's final tax revenue estimates were prepared. This suggests that collections in 2014-15 will be similarly reduced compared to the final budgeted amounts, and since 2014-15 is the base year for the 2015-17 biennium, the out-year commitment exercise would reflect lower base year revenues in 2015-16 and 2016-17. As a result, the out-year commitment number would increase by $1,124 million from previous estimates, although this is subject to revision when the AFR provides addition information on the general fund's ending balance in 2013-14.
So we'll use a version of the One Wisconsin Now whiteboard and math it out (yes, I just made "math" a verb). Since no expenditure changes are assumed (more on that in a bit), we'll assume the $281 million tax revenue shortfall means the ending balance in 2013-14 is +$443 million instead of +$724 million. From there, this is where they got the number-

+$443 mil starting balance
+$15,003 mil total revenues (-$281 mil from earlier projection)
-$15,843 Appropriations after lapses
TOTAL -$396 million

-$396 mil starting balance based on FY15
+$15,125 mil base revenue
-$15,732 Appropriations after lapses
TOTAL -$1,004 million
Required budgeted reserve +$65 million
TOTAL TO MAKE UP FY16 $-1,069 million

+$15,044 mil base revenue
-$15,744 mil Appropriations after lapses
TOTAL -$700 million

The LFB estimates it at $697 million for FY 2017- maybe some debt got re-figured or something. Close enough. It leaves the amount to make up at $1.766 million.

Now, that being said, under current law the state would likely not be able to wait until the next budget to start closing the gap. Before it calculated the $1.8 billion in deficits, the LFB said the state was likely to need a budget repair bill in the early part of 2015, which would precede any 2015-17 budget work. For small amounts of deficits (around $79 million), the Department of Administration can refuse to give money to certain departments without having to go through the Legislature, but the base amount stands when you figure the next budget. But get above that $79 million, and the Legislature would have to step in.
Section 16.50(7) establishes a separate process that must be followed if there is a larger revenue shortfall. Under this provision, if at any time after enactment of the biennial budget, the Secretary of Administration determines that previously authorized expenditures will exceed revenues in either year of the biennium by more than 0.5% of the estimated GPR appropriations for that fiscal year, the Secretary cannot address that revenue shortfall by use of the budget estimate process described above. Instead, the Secretary is required to immediately notify the Governor, the presiding officer of each house of the Legislature, and the Joint Committee on Finance of the revenue shortfall.

Following this notification, the Governor is required to submit a bill to the Legislature containing recommendations for correcting the imbalance between projected revenues and authorized expenditures. Further, if the Legislature is not in a floor period at the time of the Secretary's notification, the Governor is required to call a special session of the Legislature to take up the matter of the projected revenue shortfall and to submit a bill dealing with the shortfall to the Legislature for consideration at that special session.

It is important to note that s. 16.50(7) gives the Secretary of DOA discretion as to how and when the determination of a revenue shortfall is to take place. Once that determination is made, the Governor is required to submit recommendations correcting the imbalance between revenues and expenditures. However, the statutes do not specify a time frame for either the DOA Secretary’s determination or the submission of the Governor’s recommendations.
So Mike Huebsch and company could make a move tomorrow to try to fix the $396 million deficit in the current fiscal year (which ends on June 30). But the Walker boys are claiming that things will fix themselves enough in the next 10 months that there's no need to do so. However, one Senator who's been part of many a budget deliberation said otherwise in Monday's Journal-Sentinel story.
Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) said the size of the projected shortfall likely meant that lawmakers would have to pass a budget-repair bill early next year.

"They need to come in in January and fix it," said Ellis, who is not seeking re-election.
And there might be more to fix than just $1.8 billion, because that number doesn't count several other funds are going to be in the red and in need of repair. We already know that the state's Medicaid programs were slated to spend $93 million more than expected when it last reported information in June, and the Medicaid Trust Fund ended the last fiscal year with a cash balance of -$201.7 million. There is also a $20 million shortfall in the Veterans Trust Fund that has to be fixed in the next budget, and a Transportation Fund deficit that could well reach $1.1 billion.

And oh yeah, remember two weeks ago, when the Potawatomi's withheld payment of an estimated $25 million made the Walker Administration claim that they were going to have trouble paying the bills? Well, now we know why this was an immediate problem instead of something that could be worked out, because the state is slated to come up somewhere at least $400 to $500 million short in this fiscal year, and possibly much more than the $1.766 billion that the LFB gave in their conservative estimate.

Let's like the Old Man from Neenah have the last words on this WisGOP budget disaster. This is also from the Journal-Sentinel article.
Ellis was part of a group of Senate Republicans who raised concerns that recent tax cuts went too deep and could harm the state's finances in coming years.

"A number of us were concerned, but they did it anyway," Ellis said. "But we (Republican senators) voted for it, so we can't hide behind 'I told you so.'"
No, you in WisGOP did not stand up and do the right thing, so now you must pay. Every Republican that voted for these stupid tax cuts and destructive fiscal policy must be held responsible for the damage he or she has inflicted (with the divisiveness of the "budget-saving" Act 10 and worst job growth in the Midwest) and will be inflicted (likely through more required austerity combined with higher taxes). VOTE THEM ALL OUT.

P.S.- Check out the Wisconsin Budget Project's analysis of the deficit. It's very thorough, and basically calls BS on the Walker Admin's claim that they can grow out of this mess.