Heckuva job, Mikey
The LaCrosse Tribune listed the economic woes the state legislature will be confronting in the coming year:
Given that it’s an election year, and the Legislature is fresh off raising taxes more than $5 billion in 2009, Republicans say they expect Democrats to cast a low profile.
“The next six months are going to be nothing more than window dressing,” said Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau. He said Democrats squandered their first year as the majority party in both houses of the Legislature by raising taxes and in 2010 they will be focused on trying to get voters to forget about that.
Democrats in control say their work will center on creating jobs and improving the economy.
Make no mistake, for most politicians 2009 was a year to forget. State government furloughs, job losses, tax increases and spending cuts don’t make for an attractive campaign flyer.
Unemployment hit a 26-year high at 9.4 percent in March and by November it had come back down to 7.8 percent. Even so, that was 2.6 percentage points higher than a year ago. The state lost 126,700 jobs over the previous 12 months.
The state budget projected shortfall hit a record-high $6.6 billion before the Legislature passed a balanced spending plan at the end of June. Lawmakers and Doyle solved the problem by plugging in $2.2 billion in federal stimulus money and raising taxes by more than $2 billion. They also cut spending on state agencies and aid to schools and local governments in addition to ordering 16 days of unpaid leave for most state workers over a two-year period.
But even with that, overall state spending increased 6.2 percent and by mid-2013 another $2 billion budget hole is projected.
Pretty miserable so far. Even the Washington Post has noticed how bad things are getting in Wisconsin:
There’s Wisconsin, for example, which finished 2009 with a $2.7 billion deficit despite a technical requirement that the state balance its budget. Wisconsin’s budget shortfalls have grown every year but one since 1999, and its deficit per capita is four times that of California, according to an article last week by Todd Berry, a budget expert based in Madison.
What did Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan have to say about all this?
“I think we as Democrats did a heckuva job making those tough decisions,” Sheridan said.