On Tuesday, a joint session of the Wisconsin State Legislature watched Governor Evers' second budget address, which was given virtually to lawmakers. While he calls it the Badger Bounceback agenda, it's really a bounce backward budget. Instead of priorities to move the state forward, his $91 billion budget is more of a political document to fill the wish lists of his own party.
The governor's 2021-23 budget is simply an unrealistic proposal. The spending plan contains far too many poison pills like expanding welfare, capping school choice enrollment, legalizing recreational marijuana, repealing Act 10 and growing the size of government. The governor seems to care more about politics than about governing the state of Wisconsin. Here are a few more fiscal lowlights of the backward budget:
• Increases spending by 9.8% or $8.1 billion (all funds)
• Increases taxes by $1 billion (general fund - not including energy tax)
• Increases government jobs by 308.74 FTE (all funds)
• Creates an estimated structural deficit of -$1.3386 billion by FY25
• Takes the GAAP deficit from positive $1.5 million at the end of FY20 to a deficit of -$938.3 million
Of course, we'll look for ways to move forward on shared priorities, which include expanding broadband in rural areas across the state and educating our children. However, we believe our kids need to get back into school. We have a ways to go to help make up for any lost ground from the school closures this past year. Unfortunately, the governor did not talk about in-person learning whatsoever in his speech, which should be everyone's top priority.
On the bright side, the state of Wisconsin is in good financial shape thanks to the smart fiscal policies and reforms during the last ten years under GOP leadership. I'm proud to say that Republicans have been putting forward responsible budgets that fund the state’s priorities while protecting taxpayers. In fact, after pulling out the irresponsible items from Governor Evers' first proposal in 2019, Republicans passed a conservative budget that the governor signed into law. Our fiscal policies have continually led to budget surpluses and record rainy day fund balances. Legislative Republicans will again craft a budget that’s good for all of Wisconsin.
I encourage you to watch the Republican legislative leaders' press conference following the budget address at the following Wisconsin Eye link.