Our ethically-challenged Governor, Jim Doyle, is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to sign off on the Wisconsin state budget. This is a budget that includes huge increases in taxes and fees. Huge increases in spending - unprecedented during times of high unemployment and a recession. And when all is said and done, Wisconsin will still be over $2,600,000,000.00 in debt.
Why is Doyle so anxious to sign this budget? Well, rumor has it that Doyle is on his way out. President Obama supposedly wants him in Washington DC. to head up the Peace Corps. Could this be true? After all, this would explain Doyle's rush to sign off on a bill that would bankrupt our state and make Wisconsin even more of a tax hell than it already is.
And with Doyle's approval ratings in the low 30's, it seems as though Doyle wouldn't have a chance if he were to try to run for Governor again against Republicans Scott Walker or Mark Neumann in 2010. So, in Doyle's mind, why not sign off on a bill that soaks Wisconsin taxpayers, without any repercussions to Doyle? He won't be harmed. It makes sense.
From today's (6/28/09) Wisconsin State Journal:
In another sign of the fiscal crisis, repaying debt will take a greater share of Wisconsin’s revenue in years to come. Like a financially strapped consumer facing higher credit card bills, the state would face unprecedented debt payments over the next four years under state budget proposals by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and lawmakers.
By 2012, yearly payments on state debt will likely consume at least 4.5 percent of the state’s total income from taxes and fees, according to projections by the Legislature’s and Doyle’s budget offices. That’s 13 percent higher than the 4 percent threshold state officials have long considered to be a reasonable limit.
“If you cross that threshold, that’s a new development,” said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. “We have been pushing the borrowing and debt envelope because we haven’t been coming to grips with our budget problems.”
The rising debt levels are one more sign of how the state’s financial crisis — the worst in at least a generation — will linger for years to come, threatening further cuts to state services and increasing pressure to raise taxes. Even the billions the state is getting in federal stimulus dollars won’t be enough in the long run. Once the money stops flowing two years from now, figures from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau show, the state will face huge budget challenges:
• The state’s cushion to absorb new shocks in the 2009-11 budget would be a little more than $130 million under the budget bills passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly. That’s only enough to run state government for three or four days. The state, which operates with some of the lowest budget reserves in the nation, would still have essentially no money in its rainy day fund.
• The projected shortfall in the following two-year budget — taking into account tax cuts and spending commitments in the current budget bill — would reach $2.26 billion. That’s more than any projected shortfall in the last decade except the $2.87 billion shortfall in the 2003-05 budget. If tax revenues fail to grow enough by 2011 to cover that future deficit, state officials will once again face tough decisions.
• Payments on debt would rise from $487 million in 2011 to $650 million in 2012 — an increase of 33 percent.
So will Governor Doyle choose to flee to Washington, DC., leaving his fellow Democratic lawmakers that sold their souls for this reckless, fiscally-irresponsible budget, to pick up the pieces? A Doyle aide is quoted in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel as saying this rumor is not true. But remember, Doyle has lied before...
"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's that we spend too much"
- Governor Jim Doyle