Our Wisconsin: Budget

February 28, 2019

By Ola Lisowski

Welcome back to Our Wisconsin!

Tonight, Gov. Tony Evers will introduce his first biennial budget. This spending document is the only bill Wisconsin is constitutionally required to pass each session. For us, the next few months will be all about the state’s spending plan for 2019-21. For that reason, today we’re releasing the last in our series “Our Wisconsin,” focusing on the budget.

Every other December, state agencies release their budget requests. Think of these as wish lists of sorts for each department. When the governor releases his budget several weeks later, the real work begins. For a new governor like Evers, it’s the first opportunity to lay out a real plan for the state and to display priorities. The document affects every publicly funded program in the state.

Covering the state budget process is why the MacIver Institute exists. We serve our readers, the taxpayers, by providing in-depth and timely analysis of this massive spending document. In the months to come, watch for our coverage on just about every component of the budget. Few outlets cover the biennial budget as closely as we do. Even fewer look at the document from a free-market perspective.

The first column of our scorecard focuses on the 2011-13 budget and the second column looks at 2017-19, a direct comparison between Gov. Scott Walker’s first budget and his last. While the cries of austerity and budget cuts have echoed for years, the reality is clear. Wisconsin increased its state spending past inflation by billions of dollars during Walker’s tenure. More people are employed by the state of Wisconsin, and more money is spent every year. At the same time, the state has borrowed less, and set aside more money for a rainy day.

We hope our scorecards will keep the debate and conversation grounded in reality. We hope our scorecards will help you cut through the fog of hyperbole and rhetoric. We hope these scorecards help you decide for yourself: What is the true state of our great state?

Don’t take Evers’ word for it, or any other politician for that matter. Don’t let the media tell you what you should think. Decide for yourself.

Forward, Wisconsin.

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