Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fact Checking Mark Green's Spending Figures

Yesterday the One Blog commented on part of an article in the Wausau Daily Herald, but I wanted to follow up today with a question about the state spending figures Mark Green provided to the Daily Herald editors and reporters.

Here's the section in question from the article:

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Gov. Jim Doyle's administration is guilty of fiscal mismanagement, leading to a 20 percent increase in spending in the past four years, Republican challenger Mark Green told reporters and editors from the Wausau Daily Herald on Monday.

Green, a four-term congressman from Green Bay, said state spending must be held closer to the rate of growth or the annual inflation rate, currently at 4.3 percent.

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Like his "plan" for the budget, Green apparently didn't provide any specifics to back-up his claims about the increased spending under Doyle. He should've been asked to provide them.

Here are the state spending figures over the past decade, according to the most recent Blue Book (see page 834):

1994-1995: $18.1 billion
1995-1996: $18.7 billion
1996-1997: $20.1 billion
1997-1998: $21.6 billion
1998-1999: $23 billion
1999-2000: $26.4 billion
2000-2001: $28.2 billion
2001-2002: $31.6 billion
2002-2003: 32 billion
2003-2004: $33.9 billion

Doyle officially took office in January 2003, smack in the middle of FY 2002-2003, which ran through June 30, 2003.

If you consider that FY to be part of Doyle's tenure, then total state spending only increased by a combined 7.3 percent in Doyle's first two years in office.

If you consider the following FY -- 2003-2004 -- to be Doyle's first year in office, I couldn't find any spending figures online that go beyond that FY. I'm sure there are figures for 2004-2005 out there somewhere, but the number for 2005-2006 won't be finalized until fall and the figure for 2006-2007 just started accumulating on July 1 of this year.

Which leads me to wonder, how exactly is Green coming up with a 20 percent spending increase under Doyle?

And, as it happens, in the four full fiscal years prior to Doyle coming into office -- 1998-1999 through 2001-2002 -- total state spending increased by a combined 37.4 percent.

So even if Green can provide figures that show spending actually did increase by 20 percent in Doyle's four years in office (which, again, would be difficult considering those years aren't finished), all that means is that Doyle managed to reduce spending increases by 17.4 percent in his first term in office.

Is that really a case the Green Team wants to make?

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