Governor Walker Signs Balanced Budget with No Tax Increases

Fifty Vetoes Include Provisions on Milwaukee Police Pay, Access Restrictions on Public Officials’ Financial Connections, Spaceport Earmark

MacIver News Service | June 26, 2011 | Updated 5:30 pm

[Green Bay, Wisc…] Stressing the desire to create a better jobs climate in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker today signed the 2011-13 budget at a Green Bay manufacturing plant.

The budget balances a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes and, Walker says, continues to support critical services, while promoting job growth and investing in education.

“Our balanced budget makes tough choices while providing a path to recovery and prosperity for our state and our people,” Governor Walker (R) said at Fox Valley Metal-Tech.  “Through honest budgeting, we are showing the way forward.”

Walker’s plan received high praise from Wisconsin’s business community.

“Governor Walker and legislative Republicans deserve tremendous credit for making tough decisions to balance the state budget without raising taxes,” said Kurt R. Bauer, President/CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “The budget provides greater certainty for business executives and that should encourage job growth.”

Still Photo Captured from YouTube Video of Budget Address

The budget eliminates the state’s $3.6 billion deficit. Only seven states in the nation faced larger per capita deficits than Wisconsin.

“Just as any parent would dread leaving their kids in debt, it is the dream of every father and mother to leave their children a little better off, and that’s what our budget will do,” said Governor Walker.

The governor issued 50 revisions to the plan legislators sent him, although the controversial restrictions on craft brewers survived his veto pen.

In part, Walker:

  • Vetoed a provision allowing Milwaukee police officers to be paid while appealing dismissal
  • Eliminated the provision restricting public access to officials’ economic interest statements
  • Cut the $10,000 in segregated fees earmarked to the Aerospace Authority in Sheboygan
  • Issued a partial veto regarding WiscNet that will prohibit UW System from competing with private sector businesses in telecom services and removes the ability of the Joint Committee on Finance to waive deadlines
  • Vetoed the requirement that all child care providers submit fingerprints to state and instead will seeks rule change to mandate for those providers participating in Wisconsin Shares

The governor’s full veto message can be found, here:

Walker highlighted the plan’s property tax freeze, which he says will save the average homeowner over $700 dollars over the next two years.

“It is my hope that due to this budget, thousands of Wisconsinites can breathe just a little bit easier and not worry about how they’re going to stay in the home they love,” said walker.

The budget also includes a manufacturing tax credit and capital gains tax credit aimed at creating jobs in Wisconsin.

While legislative Demcorats were critical of the spending cuts in the plan, Republicans were adamant that the budget continues support for BadgerCare, Medical Assistance, and SeniorCare. They say the budget allocates an additional $1.2 billion into the state’s Medicaid program and the note that nearly all new revenue the state receives over the next two years will go to the Department of Health Services.

“The budget signed into law today by Gov. Walker that shamelessly attacks Wisconsin’s shared values and middle class families is certainly a dark chapter in our state’s proud history,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) in an online post Sunday. “We must continue to tell the stories of struggling middle-class, working Wisconsinites that will suffer additional hardships as a result of Gov. Walker’s poor budget choices and his assault on worker rights.”

Despite $800 million in cuts to aid to local school districts, Walker says the budget continues to prioritize education.  Public K-12 schools are the single largest expenditure in the budget, he notes, and the state will also begin a new statewide student information system which will allow for real-time state-wide data collection from schools on everything from course grades to attendance.  That will allow for better tracking of students and better accountability metrics for teachers, administrators, and schools, supporters argue.

The Governor’s budget also expands Choice and Charter schools, removing the enrollment caps on the state’s online public virtual charter schools and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, while beginning a choice program in Racine.

In his budget remarks, the Governor expressed optimism that the tumult of recent months in Madison could be a thing of the past.

“The recent debates in Madison found us spending too much time focused on our differences, rather than our similarities,” Walker said. “But today we turn the page.”

Barca, however, signaled that the acrimony is likely to continue.

“To take back our state legislature and to build our case for recalling Gov. Walker and Republican senators in the months ahead, we must continue to pull back the shroud of darkness and secrecy they have imposed on our state – we have to provide the sunlight that will ultimately disinfect Wisconsin of their radical and misguided agenda,” he wrote.

Yet, Walker said his experiences hearing from the families of Wisconsin gives him reason to be optimistic.

“We may disagree on the issue of the day, but we always find a way to unite and reach out when it means helping our neighbors in need; or inspiring our children to achieve success,” said Walker.