MacIver News Service | April 4, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON, Wis. —Now it’s the taxpayers’ turn.
Gov. Tony Evers rolled out his biennial budget proposal at the end of February, and much has been said about the Democrat’s first state government spending plan — mostly by Capitol Republicans and Democrats.
Beginning Friday, citizens from around the state will have the opportunity to weigh on the spending plan at four public hearings on the budget, led by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The first hearing is slated for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Pontiac Convention Center in Janesville. The second session takes place on Wednesday, April 10 at the Oak Creek Community Center in Oak Creek. The final two hearings are set for April 15 at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and April 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chair of the powerful budget-writing committee, says she’s concerned there is much taxpayers don’t know about Evers’ $84.2 billion budget proposal.
“I’m really concerned this budget turns back the progress and puts us in a backwards cycle,” Darling said.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Finance Committee found Evers’ spending blueprint spends about $700 million more than the governor originally claimed. The fiscal bureau also reported that Evers’ budget would create a $2 billion shortfall, the highest projected gap since 2011-2013.
Taxpayers ultimately would pick up the tab for Evers’ hefty spending plan.
The proposal has its supporters, particularly the myriad liberal special interests that benefit from a budget proposal that seeks $6 billion-plus more in spending than former Gov. Scott Walker’s last biennial budget. State agencies like the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Transportation would receive huge infusions of cash.
Darling said the Joint Finance Committee won’t start building the budget from the ground up, but it will sharpen its axe to make sure the state is “living within its means.”
Sen. Darling talks budget, the legal mess surrounding December’s extraordinary legislative session, and answers the critical question, “Does everybody need a little JFC?” in this edition of MacIver Newsmakers.