Monday, October 3, 2011

Walker budget numbers don't add up, but the lies do

The Walker Administration gave a list of their proposed list of Medicaid cuts, which was conveniently dumped on a Friday afternoon. Bad enough that these moves can be put into law by crooked Heritage Foundation hack Dennis Smith with nothing more than a thumbs-up from the Joint Finance Committee standing in the way (thanks, "small government Republicans"). But there's this cute little tidbit thrown in as well.
GPR expenditures are projected to be higher than assumed in the budget due to revised projections for drug rebate revenues and higher costs per enrollee in certain areas of the program. These higher costs are partially offset by other favorable expenditure trends in other areas, for a net increase of $38 million GPR. Act 32 directed DHS to identify $444.6 million All Funds ($181.8 million GPR) in additional savings in Medicaid. Based on these updated projections, the Department will need to identify $554.4 million All Funds ($219.5 million GPR) to balance the program in the 2011-13 biennium.
In other words, the budget's estimates on Medicaid spending is already short by $110 million. Between this and the lower-than-expected revenues in June already have this state in a $125 million hole, and this is before the job losses in July and August are figured in. So much for that "balanced" budget.

But Walker making moves based on fake and wrong budget numbers is not new. Take a look at the damage done to Milwaukee County Transit due to faulty revenue projections in the 2011 budget. As Page 6 of the 2012 MCTS budget shows a large part of the multi-million dollar deficit is due to over $5 million in reduced revenue from 2011's budgeted levels. $1.86 million of that is fares, as 2011's fare increase and route reductions didn't increase revenue, but actually lowered it. There's also nearly $5 million less in "other direct revenue". What's this? The demise of Transit TV, among other ad figures that haven't shaped up like the Walker budget said it would. When you build that hope into a budget and it doesn't happen, you have a double-hit the next year, because you filled the expense hole with that trick the year before, and now you "lose" the money you never had in the first place in the next budget.

Another example is Walker's consistent overshooting of income from selling county lands, when the county has struggled to sell and develop even one parcel to the public. So when this rosy scenario falls through, Presto! , you have another budget deficit. Watch how the same "disappointments" happen in the next few months as raids, extra borrowing, and other gimmicks don't get the numbers that the budget says it'll get. Not surprisingly, many of the Milwaukee County hits came after Scotty hightailed it into Madison, and the same will happen in Wisconsin after he's blown out of the Governor's Office. Don't forget who put it there.

And never forget the fake budget crises Walker has claimed, and not just the lie he perpetrated in the winter about the state being "broke". Walker and County Board Chair Lee Holloway magically found $8 million in health care savings at the end of 2009, allowing for furlough days to be canceled for the suddenly not-so-broke County. I'm not even going into the made-up "budget emergency" that led to a multi-million dollar contract with campaign contributor Wachkenhut, which not only lowered service, but cost taxpayers even more money than before when an arbitrator ruled Walker lied about the budget crisis and reinstated the Courthouse workers.

So this week's "larger than expected" Medcaid cuts aren't just a result of businesses shoving off a higher number of lower-paid employees onto the dole so they can pocket more profits (thought it certainly is some of that), but it's also part of a more disturbing trend where Scott Walker's administrations give faulty numbers and drastic "solutions" for political reasons. Which tells us that we must have our BS dectectors on high regarding any budget moves in the next few months (especially with the recalls coming) and be ready to call out this bullshit when it happens. Because as the Wackenhut fiasco reminds us, if we allow them to lie and implement again, the damage that gets done from Walker and co. becomes that much harder to undo.

No comments:

Post a Comment