Wednesday, May 5, 2021

WisGOPs decide that getting in Evers' way is their only agenda. Even if it costs us billions

We know that Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee are going to submarine many of Governor Evers' budget proposals tomorrow. But we didn't know just how much that move would damage the state's fiscal picture until yesterday.
The leaders of the Joint Finance Committee last week announced they would strip hundreds of provisions from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' proposed spending plan. That move will come at a significant cost, according to budget documents.

Much of the financial hit comes from the Republicans' decision not to make more people eligible for the BadgerCare Plus insurance program. Evers' proposal would net $1.6 billion over two years because the federal government would pay for more of the state's health-care costs if the state gave about 100,000 more people access to BadgerCare Plus.

In addition, Republicans plan to reject Evers' proposals to raise about $1 billion in taxes over two years.

When accounting for those changes and others, Thursday's vote will create a $3.4 billion difference between Evers' budget and the starting point for the Republican spending plan, according to figures from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
I was able to dig around various article, and found the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's memo that describes these changes, which comes as the result of a request from State Rep. Gary Goyke.
In summary, all funds appropriations would decrease from the bill by $1,297,839,300 and 108.5 positions. The net effect of the motion on the 2021-23 general fund balance would be a reduction from the bill of $1,242,986,800.
And let's break down those figures further.

You can see the big decline in tax revenue, which will result from the WisGOPs turning down Evers' request to get rid of much of the Manufacturing and Agriculture giveaway, as well as other tax hikes on the rich. The other reason the GPR balance gets worse is that the JFC move would increase state taxpayer spending by nearly $202 million. This is because Evers' budget assumes that Medicaid expansion will be approved, and because WisGOPs won't expand Medicaid, it means we actually end up spending more tax dollars, and that more than offsets areas where Evers would increase state spending (like education).

Medicaid expansion also explains the $1.4 million in lower Federal spending, which undersells how much money from DC is being turned down, because Evers submitted his budget before Biden's stimulus became law in March. The stimulus made it even more advantageous for Wisconsin to take Medicaid expansion, by giving the state an additional $1 billion for the next 2 years through incentives.

But when did reality and fiscal responsibility matter to these tools and their paymasters?

So where does Patrick Marley get the $3.4 billion hole? Let's review.

Change in tax revenue -$1.04 billion
Change in GPR spending with lapses +$202.1 million
Reduction in FED spending $1.42 billion
Change in other revenues -$1.3 million
Reduction in other spending -$91.8 million

That brings it to $2.755 billion, I'm not sure where the other $650 million comes from. It's either $1 billion in additional Medicaid funds being missed out on, or that's already accounted for in the $2.755 billion.

That's bad enough, although you could theorize that stimulus funds make up some of this difference. But the WisGOPs are also planning a second whammy tomorrow to start off budget season with.
....A separate motion they plan to take up tomorrow would amend the budget bill to base levels rather than working off Evers’ proposal, which included a nearly $8.2 billion spending increase in all funds.
Which means that the only increases in state spending that this budget will have after the GOPs get through with it tomorrow are the sum-sufficients that we discussed the other day - with the biggest boost coming from $79.4 million more dollars that will go to voucher schools. You know, the type of increased spending that WisGOPs have no problem supporting.

The excuse that the GOPs on Finance will use in the coming weeks is that federal stimulus dollars can be used to increase spending on certain state programs, and it's a legitimate point that Evers would likely have put in a different budget if we knew what was going to be in the stimulus at the time he sent it in. But it also conveniently allows WisGOPs to keep state spending at a low (or even lower) level for future, which will put a lot more stress on these programs and services when the stimulus is fading out in the 2023-25 budget.

And let's not kid what the REAL reason is for the WisGOPs' attempts to rip up Evers' plans - because GOPs don't want the state to do well for the next 18 months. The best way they can defeat Evers is if Wisconsin's economy doesn't grow and cannot meet the needs of its residents, which WisGOPs hope will lead to voter discontent against both Evers and President Biden, and help GOPs win in 2022.

Dems need to make that point loud and clear from tomorrow forward - that the GOP doesn't want to help Wisconsinites and doesn't want this state to do well. There is little other reason for tomorrow's moves beyond that.

1 comment:

  1. The really terrifying thing is, how do we ever get the GOP out of power in this state? Yes, the legislative maps are due to be redrawn in 2022, but we know how that’s going to go: Republicans draw them up, Evers vetoes them, and they end up in “the courts.” But which courts, and for how long? Months? Years? Eventually ending up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court? Meaning that the future of our state will be determined by whether sometimes-surprisingly-human Brian Hagedorn decides to side with the liberal minority? Good grief.