Friday, March 3, 2023

Vos claims Evers does "phony math", but budget has Wis in a better future spot than WisGOP schemes

2 weeks after Governor Evers introduced his 2023-25 state budget, Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos claimed we really don't have the money to do a lot of what Evers wants to do.
During a roundtable with other leggie leaders Wednesday, the Rochester Republican blasted Dem Gov. Tony Evers’ budget for using “phony math.” He argued there’s nowhere near enough revenue to fund Evers’ proposals, even just on K-12 spending. He also tried to low>er the expectations of local government groups looking for more state funds.

“I think at the end of the day, we will try to prioritize the increases in local government spending,” he said. “But if I was sitting here and speaking to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, they’re going to want an increase in spending too. And if I were talking to the Wisconsin Towns Association, they would like more money as well.”...

Vos argued Evers’ budget would put Wisconsin in a more than $1 billion structural deficit within two years, leaving no money for new programs.

“Anybody think that’s realistic? It is not,” Vos said. “So I just wanted to start with a reality check on where the budget actually is.”
As Sam Kinison might say, "Is he riiiight?" Does this budget put us in a structural deficit?

It appears Vos' claim comes from the General Fund totals of Evers budget for the last of the two years it covers. And from the topline (as shown here in the Budget in Brief), Robbin' is correct.

But let's also a few other reality checks.

1. We are slated to have $7 billion in the bank when this budget begins, along with around $1.8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, so there's a lot of cushion to play with. A $1 billion imbalance is a whole lot better that the $3.9 billion hole in the budget that the Koched-up CROWE group at the UW-Madison campus admits would appear if the regressive GOP flat tax scheme were to go through.

And at least Evers' unbalanced (but still affordable) budget would help people and stabiize and grow the economy vs that flat tax BS, and I notice Robbin' doesn't want to bring up the inveitbale budget cuts that the GOP's tax scheme would cause.

2. A bigger concern should be that a lot of that $7 billion budget balance goes away under Evers' budget because of that big jump in spending in Fiscal Year 2024. But a lot of that is due to Evers' budget has one-time initiatives that lead to lower spending in future budgets.

This includes using cash instead of borrowing for nearly $2 billion in the state's capital budget, a large pay-down of DOT debt, a $290 million payment to pay for repairs at the Brewers' ballpark for the next 20 years, a $500 million deposit into the Rainy Day Fund, and start-ups of two game-changing programs for the state.

Numbers in millions

So Vos and the GOP Legislature can choose to take any or all of these one-timers out of the budget (and I'm fine if they do that with the Brewers stadium in particular). But they're also going to have to deal with the extra debt costs and unmet needs and lesser outcomes that will continue if those items aren't approved of.

3. Another way to limit ongoing expenses is to have the state take on Medicaid expansion, which would save approximately $1.6 billion in state tax dollars over the next 2 years. But Vos is insistent that he won't do that because of....reasons.

Even the heavily GOP-gerrymandered North Carolina Legislature seems like they've woken up to fiscal reality on Medicaid expansion, but not our gerrymandered dimwits in Wisconsin.

Also not mentioned is that if local governments and schools get additional resources, it not only prevents budget cuts, but it lessens the need for those governments to have to go referendum and raise Wisconsinites' property taxes. It also could lessen the need for local communities to impose and/or raise local wheel taxes, so fewer referenda, possibly lower property taxes, and lower vehicle registration fees would be something a lot of Wisconsinites would be happy with.

So sure, if Robbin' Vos wants to insist on having a balanced structural balance that keeps billions in investments and stabilization away from Wisconsinites, he is free to do so. But let's not pretend that the Republicans are in any way the fiscally responsible ones here, either now, and especially in laying the path for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Well put. Vos wants to pay for his hoarding of tax dollars by forcing referendums to increase property tax. It isn't right.