BUDGET FASTFACTEleven Point Six Billion Bucks of BadIs Vinehout Voting No?

Compared to the last budget, to solve the $6.6 billion dollar deficit, the Governor and the Joint Finance Committee have:

Offered a spending Increase of $3.685 billion.  Documented yesterday.

Tax and Fee Increases of $2.113 billion. If we throw in the money from “enhanced collections”, we get to $2.245 billion.

Documentation: In summary, the changes included in the Committee’s budget would increase net taxes by $1,872,235,200 ($60,500,000 in 2008-09, $840,898,900 in 2009-10, and $970,836,300 in 2010-11) and would increase net fees by $241,335,800 ($95,118,000 in 2009-10 and $146,217,800 in 2010-11).  In addition, measures included in the bill to enhance the collection of current taxes/fees would generate an additional $132,102,000 ($71,459,000 in 2009-10 and $60,643,000 in 2010-11).

Increased Borrowing of $3.31 billion all funds.  Documented yesterday.

A Structural Deficit of $2.258 billion.

Documentation:  Table 5 shows that, for 2011-12, the general fund would need to generate $1,107 million in order to meet current commitments and those of ASA 1 to AB 75, maintain the required statutory balance, and balance the budget for that year.  In 2012-13, $1,151 million ($44 million over the $1,107 million in 2011-12) would need to be realized.  These amounts could be generated by revenue increases (growth or tax increases), appropriation reductions, or some combination of the two.

So, let’s do the math…


$3.685b increased spending

$2.245b increased taxes, fees, enhanced collections

$3.31b in increased borrowing

+ $2.258b of a structural deficit

= $11.598 billion worth of bad.

Eleven point six billion dollars worth of bad in this secret deal. Now we know why the leaders of the Joint Finance Committee wanted to keep this secret for as long as possible.

As you read this, Democratic leaders in the Assembly are scrambling to get the 50 votes necessary to pass this secret budget deal. The Assembly has put off a vote on the Budget until at least Thursday afternoon/evening.

After Assembly action, the plan will go to the Senate for consideration there.

The current plan is certainly no slam dunk in that house, either.

Exhibit One: Does this blog post mean that Senator Vinehout won’t be voting yes on this version of the Budget?

I was told last week, I could ask for only one change to the budget deal. But people in Western Wisconsin need more than one thing. We need good roads, safe neighborhoods, thriving schools, a local pharmacy, local government services and lower property taxes.

One particularly interesting item:

The culture in Madison has to change and the only way this will happen is when individual senators and representatives insist they must be included; the voices of the people in their district must be heard. We must refuse to have our arms twisted by those who make the deals behind closed doors.

After finding the state $6.6 billion dollars in the hole, the first thing the Governor and the Democrats on Joint Finance did was not to cut spending but rather to dig the hole deeper by spending an additional $3.685 billion dollars. Once they figured out that this put them more than $10 billion in the hole, they decided to raise taxes and fees…. and to borrow …. and to push off paying the bills until the next budget.  The net result of all this hard work is that the State of Wisconsin will be worse off in the future.

But this devastation will only happen if leaders manage to get a majority in both houses to agree to what they’ve done. A handful of lawmakers cannot pass the budget on their own.

So, the horse trading/arm twisting continues outside of public view.

The longer this goes on, it looks like this current secret deal of a Budget will be replaced by a new secret Conference Committee deal cut by Senator Decker and Representative Pocan and voted on by the entire legislature in two or three weeks.

And at this point, unless there are significant changes which are discussed, debated and voted upon in the open, it is clear Senator Vinehout has to vote no on any and all of these secret deals–either that or face the prospect of being called out as a hypocrite back home.

Stay tuned…