Monday, February 15, 2016

Wisconsin's 5% cut bill "improves", budget does not

Not that this should surprise anyone, but now even the top Republican in the Wisconsin State Senate is admitting the state budget is messed up. It's so bad that these guys won't be able to pass Gov Walker's half-assed "college affordability" package, which Scotty outlined in last month's State of the State address.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says lower budget projections will affect the fate of a package of legislation proposed to address college affordability and debt.

The Juneau Republican told “UpFront with Mike Gousha” the student loan provisions are not the only initiatives that will face difficulties in the Legislature. He said lawmakers will likely turn attention to low-cost efforts that draw on federal programs aimed at alleviating student debt.

“The rumor was that things were going to be a little bit tighter than what we imagined, and they are,” Fitzgerald said on the program, produced in partnership with

He said the original $6.5 million cost of the package will be reduced to around $2 million.
It's not like that package was going to do much anyway, nor would it come close to solving the underlying problem of defunding the UW System. But now the WisGOPs can't even do half of a half-measure because they've screwed up the budget so much. Pathetic.

Speaking of slicing the budget- out of a list of destructive crap that the WisGOPs are going to try to jam through the State Senate tomorrow is an old bill that caught my eye earlier this winter. This proposal would require all state agencies to explain plans for a 5% cut in funding as part of their budget requests, and I immediately called it out as a way that the GOP might try to claim the budget isn't as wrecked as it is in the real world (they'd claim the numbers under a 5% cut would be the "projected figures" and try to claim a balanced budget where it doesn't exist).

Well, it looks like there are a couple of changes to this bill that'll be voted on when it hits the Senate floor tomorrow, as outlined by this amendment put forward by Chris (The Delafield Dumbass) Kapenga.
For purposes of the proposals under par. (b) 1. and 2., an agency shall exclude from its state operations budget all of the following:

1. Expenditures funded by federal revenues.
2. Expenditures for principal, interest, and premium costs on public debt and state-issued revenue bonds.
It also excludes items such as WRS unfunded liabilities and other types of bond revenues, and doesn't include budget adjustments for things such as differences in expenses for programs that MUST be paid for (aka sum-sufficient expenses and related adjustments that happen throughout a budget year).

Basically, it takes out types of expenses that have to be paid for regardless of how broke the state is, which gives a more honest look into just what the budget reductions would be. Don't get me wrong he "5% cut" bill is still cynical, and is clearly intended to diminish the true fiscal train wreck that is occurring, but at least it’d force agencies to be a bit more realistic as to how bad a 5% budget cut would truly be. And that's something we all deserve to know

However, it's funny how the GOP and Governor Walker didn’t use this same standard when they claim the Governor's proposed $300 million cut to the UW was “only 2.5% of the total operating budget” despite the fact that most of the UW’s operating budget outside of state funding, and would be largely untouched by any state aid cuts (or at least should be, since those positions and operations weren’t funded by the state anyway). Now, the WisGOPs are going in the other direction with this "5% cut" bill, and saying certain expenses shouldn't be counted in the cuts. While it's true that it shouldn't be counted, it's interesting that they never brought that reality up when the cut the UW so much earlier this year. Funny how this crew shifts their reasoning when it suits the story they want to tell.

That reality might be worth pointing out on the Senate floor tomorrow, as is the fact that a lot of time and bills are being rammed through on issues that have nothing to do with the state's disastrous budget and failures in job growth. Oh wait, that's EXACTLY why all this is being done, to distract the voters and mess things up as much as possible before the GOP is eventually tossed out of office.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the bill with Kapenga's amendment passed the Senate tonight, although not without some debate and complaint.

    But in the end, NOT ONE GOP voted against it. Now it goes to the Assembly.