Wednesday, September 13, 2017
WisGOP budget another exercise gimmicks and can-kicking
As the Assembly votes on the 2017-19 budget today, it’s noteworthy to look at the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s update on what the Joint Finance-approved budget looked like.
First of all, the state’s General Fund is project to spend more than it takes in for each of the 2 years of this budget. Only a sizable carryover (mostly due to lower Medicaid enrollments) allows this to happen.
Projected cash balance, General Fund
2017-18 Start +$467.1 million
2017-18 End +$443.5 million (-$23.6 million)
2018-19 End +$196.9 million (-$246.6 million)
TOTAL CHANGE 2017-19 BUDGET -$270.2 MILLION
That $246.6 million deficit for 2018-19 is $35 million more than what the LFB estimated in March, when it was included as part of the $1 billion General Fund structural deficit for 2019-21. On a related note, the LFB released its updated projections for that 2019-21 structural deficit using the budget that passed out of Joint Finance.
The main differences between the two is that the JFC-approved budget is projected to carry over $109 million more into 2019 than Walker’s original budget did, but it “makes up” for nearly half of that difference by having larger shortfalls over each of the next 2 years.
So no real improvement there, and with the GOP Legislature deciding to cut the taxes of the rich and corporate while eliminating proposed increases in the EITC for the working poor while trying to eliminate prevailing wage on state construction projects, the JFC budget is even worse for most Wisconsinites.
A similar story holds for the deficit-ridden Transportation Fund. Not only was highway spending cut from Walker’s already-reduced amounts, but we still end up spending more money than we’re taking in to the Transportation Fund – much more if you include borrowing.
Projected cash balance, Transportation Fund
2017-18 Start +$145.4 million
2017-18 End +$78.1 million (-$67.3 million)
2018-19 End +$14.7 million (-$63.4 million)
TOTAL CHANGE 2017-19 BUDGET -$130.7 MILLION
Plus borrowing $402.4 million
TOTAL OVERSPEND VS REV 2017-19 $533.1 MILLION
That’s $533 million AFTER the cuts that were made in this budget (enjoy the slowed-down work on the Zoo Interchange, suburbanites!). And the needs for fixing roads will be larger in the next budget (since we cut spending on highway projects in this one), so you can bet that will be another $1 billion+ deficit we have to deal with in 2019.
So put the two funds together, and we are more than $800 million above expenses between now and 2019, with a gap of $2 billion or so to close. That’s not even taking into account any possible cuts from the Trump/Ryan clown show in DC that would require the state to take up more of the costs just to keep things as they are in the current budget.
And the AssGOPs had the nerve to complain about the Dems putting out multi-part amendments for the budget today? Sure, many of them weren’t going to be considered (because GOPs would rather the state fall to pieces vs giving Democrats any kind of say), but because WisGOP isn’t serious about dealing with the state’s real problems of a stagnant economy and an increasingly messed-up budget, why shouldn't the Dems resort to cheap "gotcha" moves? There are a lot of fiscal and policy issues in this budget that have not come close to being dealt with by the GOP, which means an even bigger mess will have to be cleaned up by whoever takes over after the 2018 elections.
We deserve so much more than this crap. But gimmicks and can-kicking haven't hurt the amoral slime and dimwits that make up today's Wisconsin GOP for 6 years, so they won't change until they get booted. Which is why the electeds must be changed.