Tuesday, March 20, 2018

GOP Senate chooses gimmicks > responsibility, and we'll pay the price next year

The Wisconsin State Senate is trying to wrap up their session for the 2017-19 biennium, and two big-ticket items have found their way through today, albeit in modified form.

Looks like the sales tax holiday will only be limited to lower-cost computers, computer supplies, clothes, and school supplies, and the Wisconsin State Journal says this seems to be part of a compromise between Assembly and Senate GOPs, so they can say they got something through before November’s election.
The sales-tax holiday proposal initially was left off the calendar for Tuesday's Senate session. Some Republican senators also had said they thought the proposal was a gimmick.

Fitzgerald said the agreed-to plan for the sales-tax holiday would cost the state about $12 million, compared to the $52 million pricetag for the measure that passed the Assembly.

Fitzgerald said the deal with the Assembly retains provisions calling for replacing the youth prison with new, smaller facilities for juvenile offenders around the state.

But the final plan to replace the prison would be subject to approval by the Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald also reportedly said he would call an extraordinary session on some of these bills to speed up the passage, and the Assembly also plans to do the same later this week. Apparently those 9 ½-month paid vacations can’t wait any longer!

As I mentioned last week, there is a real problem with trying to fit all of these pre-election goodies under a cushion of $382 million, and it also leaves a larger deficit looming for the next budget and next Legislature to clean up. And that’s without mentioning the $100 million Walker now wants to throw at schools for “safety measures” (that conveniently don’t involve removing the guns that cause schools to be less safe), where all of that money is set aside this year, even though it may take a few years to spend it all.

And we found out this afternoon that there's now another bill that'll subtract from this cushion.

You can't tell me Scott Walker and his administration didn't know about this 2015 settlement and the $19 million settlement. But hey, why deal with real problems when you can do pre-election bribes that might sucker a few low-info voters?

Anything that passes today, including the added costs that come from closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Hills and moving those inmates to smaller regional facilities, increases the already-sizable built-in deficit for the next budget. And that debt grows larger if this week's votes start a program that continues and needs more money in the next budget (like we'll see with the Lincoln Hills closings and other juvy reforms). With that in mind, I haven’t seen a report on everything that hasn't made the cut from the Senate, but Scott Bauer of the AP mentioned one of them.

Another big-ticket item that seems most likely to end up dead include $50 million a year Walker wanted to spend on a new “rural WEDC” program, so perhaps the entire cushion won’t be blown, but only about half of it. But stay tuned, because I have this sinking feeling that this is not the last we've heard about some of these bills, and the inevitable deficit that will blow up as a result of these pre-election gimmicks.


  1. I believe Republicans are OK with budget deficits because it gives them an “emergency” that gives them cover to cut the programs the party doesn’t approve of. (See Act 10.) Hopefully voters this fall will see through their tails I win, heads I win strategy.

    1. Oh there's no doubt that IS the plan, just like how Paul Ryan wants to use the exploding deficits from the Piece of Shit tax bill to cut Social Security and Medicaid.

      But it's more like "tails I win (tax cuts that are kicked back to me in campaign contributions), heads YOU LOSE (good schools, decent roads and a worthwhile quality of life)."