Right Thinking From The Left Coast
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Truth on the Wisconsin Budget

Section8 put up this link in the comments to the “Stooping” post, but I thought I’d promote it above the fold, because it’s critical that we know the facts.  Rachel Maddow (who I have previously castigated for her glib and frequently not quite correct “reporting") is among many flogging the idea that doesn’t really have a budget deficit and if it does, it’s caused by Walkers tax cuts.

Politifact decided to actually ... you know ... do some reporting.  They called the man who wrote the report, asked some questions and concluded that what she said was false.

There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.


The confusion, it appears, stems from a section in Lang’s memo that—read on its own—does project a $121 million surplus in the state’s general fund as of June 30, 2011.

But the remainder of the routine memo—consider it the fine print—outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.

The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.

It would be closer to the $340 million figure if the figure included the $200 million owed to the state’s patient compensation fund, a debt courts have declared resulted from an illegal raid on the fund under former Gov. Jim Doyle.


Meanwhile, what about Maddow’s claim—also repeated across the liberal blogosphere—that Walker’s tax-cut bills approved in January are responsible for the $137 million deficit?

Lang’s fiscal bureau report and news accounts addressed that issue as well.

The tax cuts will cost the state a projected $140 million in tax revenue—but not until the next two-year budget, from July 2011 to June 2013. The cuts are not even in effect yet, so they cannot be part of the current problem.

I would also add that Walker’s main concern is the long-term budget.  In the interview Alex linked up below, a senator talks about California, now facing half a trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.  Illinois and New York are just states getting crushed by similar burdens.  Walker is trying to head that off before it happens to Wisconsin.

Exit point: how many liberal blogs do you think will link to Politifact’s analysis?  Do you think Rachel Maddow will withdraw her mistaken point?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/21/11 at 08:09 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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