Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fool's! Wisconsin's budget will balance just fine

I am Jake's complete lack of surprise to see the LFB admit that the "new and improved" budget repair bill will pretty much balance the 2009-2011 budget even without the forced increases in health care and pension contributions from state employees. Doing nothing at all would leave an alleged deficit of $18.675 million, which is less than .15% of the GPR budget, and given how state revenues continue to come in well above expectations, it's pretty evident that this fiscal year's budget will be in balance when it all finalizes on June 30.

But I'm willing to accept some modifications to put us in better shape fiscally. However, Walker's bill doesn't even do anything to solve those issues. Instead of accepting the thousands of state employee retirements, and using the lapses of state money by not filling those positions for the next 3 months, this "repair" bill actual decreases the lapses (i.e. allows for added spending) by $79 million. So does this mean Scotty thinks state employees really are needed? Inquiring minds want to know.

It also fills in Medicaid assistance holes to the tune of $176 million- $24 million more than first projected (think national health care might cut those costs at the state level?), but doesn't use the lapses or additional revenues to pay for it. Instead the plan is to "refinance" (read: borrow) another $165 million, which means we spend close to ANOTHER $30 million in fiscal year 2011-2013 to pay it off. Why not just use the original lapse figures and play it tight for the rest of the year if you're so fiscally conservative? Well, unless you want to blow up the budget in future years, leading to more fiscal crises and a need to take "further measures." They wouldn't sabotage things like that, would they? (oh yes they would)

And on another economic note, the latest jobs report continues to show steady growth, at 216,000 jobs for March , 410,000 in the last 2 months, and nearly 1.5 million jobs since the low point of February 2010. If you run the numbers from the 2010 Census using the 18+ population of the U.S., this means that Wisconsin's job growth should be around 7,600 for these two months if it is staying in line with the rest of the nation. Wisconsin held up well in February on the surface, with 5,200 jobs added, but that's skewed by 3,600 additional jobs in state governmnet, reflecting Scotty's cronies moving in.

Let's just say the 40+ retirements in my department in the last month makes me think that +3,600 state gov't job number will be reversed in coming months, so Scotty better hope he sees more than 1,600 other jobs a month move in, or else that 250,000 job promise will look even more empty than we already know it to be.

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