Friday, May 29, 2009

Bill Kramer looking for the 2003 version of Governor Doyle

State Representative Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) asks in his latest Capitol Correspondence what happened to the Governor Doyle we knew in 2003?

Where's the Governor Jim Doyle from 2003?

In 2003, Governor Jim Doyle had just started his first term as Governor and had delivered his first State of the State speech.

In 2009, he has proposed two budgets that raised taxes by $2.9 billion and base state spending since that first State of the State speech has increased 100%.

Below are some of the sentiments that Governor Jim Doyle shared with Wisconsin from his 2003 speech... and I ask: Where is THAT Governor Doyle?

"And I can summarize that condition simply. The state of our government is profoundly troubled. The State of Wisconsin is as vibrant as ever."

I agree, but your budgeting since has not reflected that sentiment, Governor Doyle. You have systematically raided segregated funds, borrowed too much from future taxpayers, and increased taxes on our job creators and families that have made Wisconsin vibrant.

"But here in Madison, we face a crisis -- a budgetary deficit that imperils state government -- one so severe it will, if we do not address it, imperil our people too."

I agree, but why does this seem to be a recurring problem? The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

"Our challenge -- here in this room -- is to prove Wisconsin's government worthy of Wisconsin's people. Let that challenge begin today. And let it begin with me."

We should begin to address this challenge, unfortunately, you've taken six years to take your clarion call seriously. Your solution: Raise taxes. Increase spending. Raid segregated funds. The problem? It's still there and every passing day the news gets worse.

"But this is a moment for protecting what's most important rather than launching a host of new undertakings. I wish that wasn't the case. This isn't the kind of speech I wanted to give, nor, I'm sure, is it the kind you wanted to hear."

I'll take this speech over any you've given since -- especially any where you've proposed new spending initiatives, expanded the size and scope of government, and raised taxes. This was good advice... you should have heeded it. Instead of blaming the current economic recession on national circumstances brought forth by previous presidential administrations, perhaps you should instead say "thank you" for allowing you to live off the prosperity that many Wisconsinites enjoyed and which enabled you to increase state spending by 100%. Your most recent budget proposal calls for a 10 percent spending increase.

"There's a lot I'd like to do that we can't -- and a lot we'll have to do that I'd rather not -- and both of those circumstances trouble me greatly."

It didn't stop you, did it, Governor Doyle?

"The simple fact is this: We're spending too much -- and we have been for a long, long time."

And it never slowed, stopped, or retreated under your watch, did it?

"We can no longer rely on the economic boom to mask spending growth. More than 166,000 of our people are out of work. Revenues to the state are down by more $900 million. All the while, government has continued to spend more and promise more."

Compared to 2009, those are halcyon days. We continue to hemorrhage jobs and the budget deficit keeps getting worse and worse.

"Meanwhile, the combination of soaring spending and dubious bookkeeping resulted in our bonds being downgraded. Only two states' ratings are worse. I wish we weren't in this mess. I believe firmly that we shouldn't be. But we are. We must get out of it. And we can."

What's that you say about soaring spending, Governor Doyle?

For years, many of us, myself included, have tried to reform the fiscal mismanagement of state government and have proposed legislation that would have required the state to prepare budgets using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and zero-based budgeting so that we could better manage and understand the state's fiscal position. Both Republicans and Democrats have shown tremendous reluctance to embrace these ideas. If we are to abide the admonition given by Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's Chief of Staff, that we ought not waste a good crisis, then now is the best time for a complete restructuring of government bookkeeping procedures.

"Going forward, my mind will be open to every solution -- except one. We should not -- we must not -- and I will not -- raise taxes.
Wisconsin's problem is not that we tax too little. It is that we spend too much.
If common sense doesn't lead us to that conclusion, simple arithmetic will.

Wisconsin is already one of the nation's most heavily taxed states. Adding to the burden would make it virtually impossible to attract new jobs while destroying more than 50,000 of the ones we already have.

By costing us jobs, raising taxes would trigger an economic spiral that would cost us revenue too. In the long run -- and perhaps in the short term too -- raising taxes will make the deficit worse, not better."

If it was true then, why is it not true now, Governor Doyle? In February you signed more than $1.2 billion in tax increases into law, and then immediately proposed another $1.7 billion in tax increases within days of that. When all is said and done, taxes in Wisconsin will have increased by no less than $2.9 billlion.

"Working families are already stretched to the limit. They're paying more for groceries -- housing -- utilities -- gasoline -- and other basic needs. It would be unfair -- and it would be wrong -- to raise their taxes too."

Where is that $2.9 billion going to come from, then? You are proposing more in garbage fees, cell phone fees, hospital taxes, and investment taxes. That turnip has no blood left to give, Governor.

"Finally, let's solve this problem once -- and let's solve it right."

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

"For too long, Wisconsin has budgeted for today without thinking about tomorrow. We've allowed structural problems to accumulate that make each budget more difficult than the one before. In the past, government resorted to easy, cosmetic fixes rather than making the tough calls."

Like that time you raided the Transportation Fund? Or the Injured Families and Patients Compensation Fund? Or the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund?

"You know, the budget shortfall is serious, and we'll have to make painful cuts to overcome it. But let's not lose our perspective. We're still going to spend more than $22 billion over the next two years -- and that's enough money to make a real difference in a lot of people's lives."

If $22 billion is enough money to make a real difference in a lot of people's lives, Governor Doyle, then what is the justification for a 100 percent increase in state expenditures since you gave this speech, and a nearly 10 percent increase in the upcoming budget alone? What was it you said before about spending too much? And cosmetic fixes?

I ask again, where is the Governor Jim Doyle from 2003?