Thursday, April 23, 2015

GOP happy talk on Wisconsin budget going away quickly

Seems that the happy talk that Wisconsin Republicans were giving earlier this month about upcoming revenue figures is going by the wayside. Check out this comment from our Governor as he made a rare in-state (!) appearance yesterday at a groundbreaking in Appleton.
Gov. Scott Walker says new tax collection forecasts coming out in May will not provide a windfall, but any additional revenue should first be directed to help K-12 schools....

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is expected to release new revenue projections the week of May 4. Positive projections will give the Legislature more money to spend or reduce cuts as it works on the state budget.

Walker says he does not think there will be a “huge amount” of additional money. But he says the priority will be filling a $127 million cut in funding to public schools he proposed in the first year of the budget.
That's quite the tell there, isn't it? How much you want to bet that Scotty got a preview of the March revenue collections (which will likely be released to the public tomorrow) and they're likely not looking that great. The March numbers aren't the last item of data the LFB will be utilizing when it makes its projections in a couple of weeks (that'll be April's numbers, because of the April 15 tax deadline), but they'll certainly give an indication where those figures are going.

You know Walker would be openly talking up the revenue figures if the numbers were good, because they would be proof that "it's working" and that cutting taxes can raise revenue (it's one of his arguments in the GOP primary). It also would allow for Walker's unpopular cuts to K-12 education to be reduced, and Walker is clearly feeling the heat from those proposals if he's already backtracking on those spending cuts and claiming that any extra revenue will go towards reducing them (those 41% approval ratings don't seem to leave him so "Unintimidated"). So I wouldn't bet on any great bump-up in numbers when they come out tomorrow.

Scott Fitzgerald also sounded downcast on the revenue side when he revealed today that it was unlikely that a lot of the UW System's $300 million budget cut will be reduced at the Capitol.
"I think with the out-of-state and the graduate student tuition increases that the Regents implemented there probably seems to be even less of a commitment to backfill that," said Sen. Fitzgerald.

Both Gov. Walker and Sen. Fitzgerald made it clear that any revenue increases would first be used to restore $127 million in cuts proposed for K-12 public education in the 2015-16 school year. Sen. Fitzgerald said if there is any extra revenue left over, there are a few things he would look to do to restore more funding to the Department of Transportation in order to reduce the amount of borrowing requested for road construction projects.
Given that 70% of respondents to the Marquette Law Poll from earlier this month said they opposed those UW System cuts, for Fitzgerald to not even say he'll try to soothe that damage tells you the money is not there. And the GOPs don't have the guts to raise taxes or even reduce upcoming tax cuts to reduce Walker's slashing of education funding, so they're left to pray that there was a huge influx of income tax returns that boosted April, or else they are SCREWED.

Sort of like what we're seeing in another Koch/ALEC-owned state that just released revenue figures- Kansas.
Lawmakers need to find an additional $200 million to balance the budget on top of revenue increases already proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The development is causing Brownback to consider whether to put forward a revised tax policy, his spokeswoman said.

Officials released an updated consensus revenue estimate Monday that shows a total of about $400 million in adjustments needs to be made to the budget. Brownback, a Republican, put forward about $210 million in cigarette and liquor tax hikes and other changes in his January budget proposal.

Those tax hikes haven’t been passed by lawmakers yet, however, even though legislators crafting the budget have been working on the assumption they will.
Brownback and the Kansas GOP has been cutting taxes on corporations and high-income individuals for the last 3 years, and the resulting has been an ongoing cycle of revenue shortfalls and budget cuts, so much so that 6 Kansas schools are closing early this year because Brownback had to yank funds away from them during the school year to balance the budget.

If Wisconsin's March and April revenue figures also fall short and open up further budget holes, will we see the same type of immediate cuts here? We'll likely have a good idea tomorrow.


  1. In another GOP-cursed state (with, strangely enough, a non-declared presidential hopeful), LSU contemplates filing the equivalent of academic bankruptcy. I sure hope the LSU students don't mind that all future faculty members will be exclusively third-tier candidates at the very best. Maybe, someday, they'll have a university that their football team can be proud of.

    Dr. Morbius

    1. Hey! I'm planning to see LSU-UW in Lambeau in 2016. They cant go bankrupt yet!

      And I'm guessing Bobby Jindahl and other GOPs in Louisiana give a lot of "Geaux Tigers" tweets, just like the GOPs did during Bucky's run. Screw them

  2. Let's just take a moment to remember the context of the WisGOP giveaway of $1,938 million over the last 4 years and how those tax-cuts-that-cannot-ever-be-revisited are costing the state $2.3 billion each biennium.

    That is the one and only reason why we're not having a conversation in the state right now about whether the best use of our surplus would be to restore some of the swingeing education cuts we've already had.

  3. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - how about running this headline: "Walker Tax Cuts Cost State $2.3 Billion Each Biennium". Wisconsin citizens deserve to know.

  4. Huh- didn't see the revenue numbers posted anywhere today. It would seem to be on schedule for the last Friday of the month. I find this interesting