MacIver News Service | September 25, 2017
By M.D. Kittle[Madison, Wis…] Gov. Scott Walker says he had no doubts that he would sign a state budget by the end of summer.
The Republican governor made the pledge several weeks ago, as lawmakers appeared to be ending a budget deliberation stalemate.
It was close. Walker signed the $75.7 billion (not including bonding) 2017-19 budget on the last day of summer, some 2 1/2 months after it was technically due.
Walker said all the talk in the press about budget impasses among Republican leadership was really much ado about nothing.
“We all agreed we were going to spend more on property tax relief, we’re going to spend more on schools, and we’re going to put more into transportation. The question is, just how much. It was like there were these gigantic differences out there,” the governor told MacIver News Service Friday during an interview on the Vicki McKenna Show, on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA in Madison.
Well, there was at least one significant difference: How to fund transportation.
In the end, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a version of the transportation budget that was very close to what Walker first proposed in February.
“There were differences for sure, but I believed in the end we’d get to a budget,” he said. “And the good news is we’ve got a budget that puts more money into schools than ever before and still cuts property taxes in 2017 and again in 2018. It eliminates an entire tax – the state property tax is gone now. It chips away at the personal property tax, freezes tuition now for the sixth year in a row and does plenty of other goods things as well.”
The cumulative impact of the Walker era budgets – from 2011 to the end of the current biennium – will be more than $8 billion in tax relief, according to the administration. Who would have thought in December 2010 (a month before Walker began his first term as governor) that taxpayers would realize $8 billion in tax relief, the Republican governor said.
“I think even my most ardent supporters would have doubted it,” Walker said.
While the budget includes too much spending and too much pork for the tastes of fiscal hawks, the governor said this is a “reform dividend” budget filled with limited-government reforms.
“We’ve done all sorts of really good conservative reforms in this budget, but they don’t get a lot of attention because those weren’t the things we were largely disputing at the tail end” of the budget process, Walker said.
Listen to the entire interview here:
Read MacIver Institute’s in-depth analysis of the 2017-19 budget.