Monday, October 22, 2007

Some notes on the impending state budget

By the numbers
If the state budget passes on Tuesday, the budget will be 114 days “late”. Even if we take the Doyle budget instead of the Democratic state senate’s budget, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the budget will be $400 million less than what the governor wanted. That works out to $3.5 million per day the budget was delayed.

The final budget is still an 8% increase over the previous budget, a sharp increase in spending and a dramatic departure for a governor who had previously boasted about not raising taxes.

The 2006 estimated population of Wisconsin is 5,556,506 people. The budget is expected to be $58 billion. That works out to the state spending $10,438 for every man, woman and child.

The budget delay enabled Republicans to rid the budget of “Healthy Wisconsin” ($15.2 billion), additional taxes on oil companies ($233 million) and hospitals ($418 million), the KRM car rental fee increase ($4.9 million annually), and reduced the cigarette tax.

Doyle's budget would have increased taxes over $1.3 billion. Add the Democrats’ “Healthy Wisconsin” and taxpayers were looking at $16.5 billion in tax increases. The “delay” in passing the budget saved taxpayers approximately $145 million per day. Taking out “Healthy Wisconsin” and taxpayers saved approximately $11.4 million per day the budget was “delayed.”

With friends like these
Republicans who supported Dean Kaufert over Mike Huebsch for Assembly Speaker out of fear Huebsch would not be conservative enough might want to pay attention to this little bit from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Thursday: A handful of Assembly Republicans met with Huebsch to discuss ways to come to an "endgame."

"Without giving away the house or anything, we needed to get something done," said Kaufert, who was one of those who met with Huebsch to say lawmakers were feeling the pressure to stop December property tax bills from going up unnecessarily.

"People will be mad as hell, and I told them, 'I'm not taking that shot,' " Kaufert said.
In the same article, Kaufert was quoted as saying,
"When (Doyle) found out that we were truly going to stick together for lower taxes, less spending, the thermometer just really went up and everybody said, 'We're going to get it done this week,' " he said.
Stick together, stick it to leadership - close enough for Kaufert.

What else are they doing?
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the budget includes "$21 million in additional school aid for low-income districts - $17 million of which would go Milwaukee Public Schools. MPS would have to use the money to partially offset property taxes it levies for the school choice program. It would also give MPS $10 million for math and science classes." $10 million to teach math and science? Isn't that (along with reading and writing) their core function? If it isn't, then why are they receiving any state education aid at all?

If you repeat the lie often enough
"For the first time in a long time, Wisconsin has a budget." - Governor Jim Doyle

Of course, Wisconsin has had a budget all along, the last budget. But the media has not understood that from the beginning, which explains why they breathlessly reported Doyle's promise to partially shut down the state government rather than question why it was necessary.

We'll never know what the budget will really cost
Actually, we will two budget cycles from now when Doyle's Wisconsin Covenant plan either gets funded or killed.

Both sides laid out a clear legislative agenda during the impasse.

The Assembly Republicans in opposition were even better than the Assembly Republicans in creating their own budgets. Some team discipline was needed in the beginning. But the Assembly Republicans did much to restore their reputation as the party of lower taxes after the TABOR debacle.

Speaking of TABOR, just imagine how much easier the budget process would have been had the Republicans lived up to their principles and passed TABOR when they had the chance.

The Senate Democrats have been exposed as Old Democrat tax-and-spend liberals. Universal health care, near-unlimited spending goals and endless taxpayer-funded wish lists. They're great for holding together the Old Democrat coalition together, but that is not a long-term majority formula. Ask Bill Clinton.

As for Governor Doyle, the constant lies and low tactics demeaned the office he holds. His rants about "extreme Republicans" ignored (for cheap partisan gain) how many of the positions held by the opposition were actually his own positions just one year ago. He is truly a loathsome character. However, at last his true tax-and-spend agenda has now been exposed. Too bad it's one year too late. We'll see how he stands for re-election next time. Ironically, $1.3 billion in tax increases proved to be the "moderate" position within his own party.

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