Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Assembly GOP Budget: Mission Accomplished

If I can pass a budget in the Assembly that has no tax increases, I will certainly go to the conference table and show them how we can do it.
- Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch

Our focus was to make sure Wisconsin had a no-tax budget; we met that goal.
- Assistant Assembly Majority Leader Mark Gundrum

Well, the state GOP now has its show budget. It's one Republicans can trundle out to the fire-breathing fiscal conservatives as a sign of good faith. But the bulk of it isn't going to stick.

Sure, a handful of Republicans in the Assembly will hold out for a budget like this one, but enough will ultimately side with a budget that looks far more like what came out of the JFC last month.

All in all, the Assembly budget doesn't include much that wasn't expected. When you need to cut $1 billion to meet a self-imposed goal, not many stones are going to be left unturned.

Working from the budget that passed out of the JFC, the GOP cut K-12 funding by $85 million, the UW budget by over $100 million, shared revenues to local governments by $58 million, county circuit court support by $19 million, county youth aid by $27 million, low income child care subsidies by $52 million, Family Care for the elderly by $61 million, and those are just some of the big ones.

Dozens of other areas have tens of thousands to millions cut from their funding, such as $8 million from public radio and television, $1.2 million from the state's child abuse prevention program, $3 million in grants to community health centers, and $3.2 million from the school breakfast program.

And there are policy items galore, ranging from altering state laws on self-defense to pushing abstinence-only education to naming a major stretch of US Hwy 14 after Ronald Reagan.

I could go on and on.

But, of course, none of this is worth getting worked up about, although it is an interesting glimpse into what the actual budget could've looked like if Mark Green was elected last November and the GOP would've held onto the Senate.

Nevertheless, in the end, the Dems will drop a couple of big ticket items such as the Healthy Wisconsin plan and perhaps the oil company assessment, and the GOP leadership will back away from the vast majority of their proposed cuts.

And, once the ink is finally dry, we can all sit back and watch some football. Let's just hope it's not the playoffs.

UPDATE: Righty Jo Egelhoff of FoxPolitics.net on the long-term impact of the Assembly budget:
The Assembly budget ends in 2009 with a paltry surplus of $5.6M – including $0.00 proposed for what is currently a required $65M rainy day fund. Compare that to the Senate budget, ending 2009 $180.7M in the black, including a rainy day fund of $130 million.

The Fiscal Bureau is still massaging the numbers a bit, but the structural deficit in the Assembly budget is over $900 million! $900 million that’s directed to be spent in this biennial budget, but to be paid in July, 2009, a brand new budget year. What a mess. The structural deficits projected in the Governor’s, JFC and Senate budgets were bad enough – but “just” in the $700M range.
It isn't difficult to picture the GOP leadership crawling to the finish line when crafting this budget. After scrapping together enough cuts to reach the bottom of the $1 billion crater required for a no-tax-increase budget, there just wasn't anything left to dice up for a healthier long-term outlook.

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Blogger Dad29 said...

the GOP cut K-12 funding by $85 million

Looks like you are peddling a line here, fella.

July 10, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Care to explain your objection, fella?

July 10, 2007  
Blogger xoff said...

It's semantics. The wingnuts argue that the GOP budget is still more than the last budget for schools in 2005-07.

But it is $85-million less than the Senate version. So they did cut $85-million from that Senate-passed budget.

July 10, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

That's what I figured he meant, which is particularly curious considering the line that he quoted opened with the phrase, "Working from the budget that passed out of the JFC...."

July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, did you spot the provision where state funding for the UW law school would be completely cut off by 2011?

July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be expected from Huebsch, who according to his bio, didn't attend college long enough to become a fan of the concept of higher education.

July 11, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I did see that about the UW Law School; that surprised me a bit. I expected the elimination of GPR money for the Havens Center in the Sociology Department at UW-Madison since conservatives feel it's a state-funded incubator for liberal ideas. I can't imagine the objection to the law school is the same, but who knows.

If anyone out there knows the justification, feel free to share.

July 11, 2007  
Blogger tjmertz said...

On the K-12 numbers, this post explains things: http://www.madisonamps.org/component/option,com_jd-wp/Itemid,31/

and the district estimates can be seen here: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/070710revlimits.xls.

The assembly budget spends more state dollars on K-12 but reduces the property tax/local revenue portion, total allowed revenues and total K-12 spending.

They've got a good sound byte with the "increase," but good sound bytes won't help our children.


July 16, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Thanks for the comment and link, TJM. I have a more detailed discussion of the K-12 funding situation in this post.

July 16, 2007  

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