Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Budget "crisis" growing fraudulent by the day

There's a few things that have flown under the radar as Gov. Dropout continues to dig his hole deeper and the nation has caught on to what a transparent power-grab and union bash this alleged "budget repair" bill is. But I want to go back to the budget part for a second, because there are some recent developments that make Walker's "crisis" siren even more shaky.

In the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's now-famous 2011 budget projection, the LFB figured Wisconsin tax revenue growth of 4.6% from the 2009-'10 fiscal year. However, Wisconsin's economy has been recently picking up over the last few months, much like other parts of the nation, and the Department of Revenue just released figures showing revenue growth of 5.0% for the first seven months of the fiscal year, and 7.1% for January . If 5.0% growth holds, that's another $47 million to close whatever minor budget gap exists. Remember, the state union concessions that were declined by Walker, WisGOP and the corrupt Jeff Plale and Russ Decker was estimated at $100 million. There'd be no further need for extra borrowing or other accounting tricks.

And there's no reason to think that the above-trend revenues won't continue. Between the Packer Super Bowl and huge amounts of protest-related tourism in Madison, there are 2 unexpected events that have probably led to larger-than-normal consumption, and as a result, high levels of sales taxes and income in the service sector (bars, restaurants, etc.). Dane County just reported 38% growth in last month's sales taxes vs 2010, and are $1.6 million over budget in the last year. Obviously, Dane County sales taxes are a reflection of state sales taxes in that area, since they're both collected at the same time, and it is logical to assume that will cross over into the state figures shortly.

And lastly, in checking the numbers side of the budget adjustment bill , it looks like the insurance and pension concessions that state workers would give up (and have said they'd agree to) are around $29 million for the rest of this fiscal year...or about $70 million less in savings than the concessions would have been if Walker, Plale and co. hadn't have interefered in the contracts 2 months ago, because those savings would have included retroactive payments, while the budget "repair" bill only does it from late March forward. And I'm not even going into the extra $26 million in expenses for the next budget that will have to be paid off due to Scotty's plan of borrowing another $165 million (it's in Page 10).

Lastly, in that DOR January 2011 report, it reports corporate taxes are up nearly 14% from last year, and income taxes up 4.7%, sort of discrediting the idea that tax revenues go down if loopholes close and high-income taxes go up (as they did in Jim Doyle's and the Dems' last budget). And likewise, a huge reason there's even a chance to justify any type of repair is due to Scotty and co's corporate tax giveaway lowering this year's revenues.

Much like the federal budget's deficit, tax cuts and the unemployment resulting from deregulation and bad trade policy lead to the "problem" of deficits that allow GOPpers to squawk about the need to cut spending. If there weren't those bad GOP policies in the first place, there wouldn't be this problem. You know much like the "Fire in the Reichstag" tactic of taking an alleged budget deficit as the excuse to bust unions and grab power.

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