The first thing Rep. Hintz does is take the Walker Administration and GOP legislators to task for the Bush-like move of blowing a projected budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich and corporate, leading to a budget deficit today that was entirely avoidable.
Governor Walker's budget is a "crisis budget" at a time when other states are investing in opportunity and growing their economies. We are told by Governor Walker and his Republican Legislature that we have to make "tough cuts" and this budget "invests in priorities." Yet, just last spring, the state was projected to have a budget surplus. Governor Walker and the Republican legislators were up for election, so they passed a permanent $541 million tax cut. While it may have made for good politics at the time, it was poor fiscal management. The Walker Administration recently had to delay a debt payment of $103 million, which taxpayers will pay additional interest on, just to keep our current budget in the black.What I like about Hintz's column is summarized in that last sentence. Not only does he give why the Walker budget sucks, but he has a solution to help solve the problems that Walker/WisGOP have caused (in this case, by leveling off the M&A tax cut). It's not like Dems don't have solutions to these issues, but far too often, they are unwilling to say what they are, causing the average dope to think the GOP is the party of "action", even if that action is detrimental.
Another misplaced priority has been the increased use of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, a measure slipped into Governor Walker's first budget that eliminates most state income taxes on owners of factories and farms once it is fully phased in. When the credit was passed in 2011, it was estimated that it would cost $128 million annually by 2016-17. However, it is now estimated that it will cost more than twice the amount expected. Delaying the final phase in of this credit by two years could restore nearly $78 million to the budget and help avoid further cuts.
Rep. Hintz finishes off the column with another budget solution, and a reminder that these Walker/WisGOP tax cuts and cost-shifting have not led to good results, but certainly have led to the mess we are currently in.
Maybe the biggest casualty of Governor Walker's presidential ambitions is his stubborn political decision to reject the federal Medicaid expansion funding. We are the only state in the upper Midwest which has not accepted this funding. Taking the expansion money would provide 81,000 additional Wisconsinites access to health care, save state taxpayers $345 million, and add an estimated 10,000 health care jobs.If more Wisconsin Dems talked truth like this, they wouldn't lose a statewide election for the next 20 years. So why the hell don't they?
If Wisconsin had some positive economic results to show for the recent borrow-and-cut policies, you could make a case for continuing this direction. But we don't. Wisconsin remains dead last in the Midwest in job growth over the past four years and 40th in the U.S. overall. The "crisis budget" we are dealing with has been self-inflicted and intentional. Cut revenue enough that government has no choice but to reduce its programs and expenses. We didn't have to be in this position and we don't have to make these cuts now. Instead of slashing and borrowing, we need a state budget that invests in opportunities for the people of Wisconsin.