Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Budget not perfect, but not bad


Budget not perfect, but not bad

Zombies and hula hoops not a substitute for fiscal sanity

Is it just me, or does the left have a holiday or anniversary for every day of the year? When the state Supreme Court announced their decision Tuesday evening to reinstate the budget repair law, some protesters complained about the supposed “irony” of it occurring on Bob La Follette’s birthday.

Somehow, I don’t think Bob La Follette will mind, do you?

It’s Madison, it’s budget time, and the circus is in town. I am not kidding you when I tell you the protests on the first day of budget deliberations had a group of people hula-hoop their protesting on the Capitol lawn. Such is the seriousness of opposition to the proposed state budget.

What a change one election can make. As of Monday’s analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the proposed state budget would eliminate the structural deficit and actually lead to a $300 million surplus heading into the next biennium.

The budget process began with the state looking at $3.6 billion structural deficit. The state also owed the patient compensation fund $200 million.

When the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s estimate of incoming revenue went up for the next biennium, the Legislature actually voted to apply most of that money to paying the bills. It’s amazing, really.

Remember how the budget process worked under the last governor and the Democratic-controlled Legislature?

They faced a budget deficit (of their own creation) of $6.6 billion. To meet it, they raised taxes over $2 billion. They used over $3.4 billion of one-time stimulus funding. They even allowed local property taxes to go up $1.5 billion.

Despite the spending of one-time federal money and raising taxes, the Democrats and Gov. Jim Doyle left a structural deficit of $2.33 billion while they increased state spending by 6.2 percent.

Yet the Democrats have the gall to be out in Madison hula-hooping their protests, getting arrested in the Capitol, attempting to disrupt the Legislature as it is working, and even injecting their protests into a Special Olympics ceremony.

I’m trying to remember why it is that the Democrats are chanting, “shame, shame, shame” unless it’s an admission of guilt.

That’s not to say the proposed state budget is perfect. Like every state budget before this one, there are a number of policy items in the budget that do not belong.

The Wisconsin Legislature should not be including, on a bipartisan vote, new laws restricting breweries’ rights to own wholesalers and retail operations. Not only is it harmful to the craft beer industry, it just does not belong in the budget.

The budget could have done more for education, like expanding school choice to Beloit. The Republicans also could have eliminated the deadline for switching school districts, allowing parents greater flexibility in educating their children.

That the Legislature failed to eliminate the mandate for recycling programs, or eliminate the state’s life insurance program that serves no purpose whatsoever, will probably bother some conservatives until the next budget cycle. They should, but they’re not critical to the success of the budget process this time.

So the budget is not perfect, and it certainly does not go far enough to reduce state spending. However, comparatively speaking, the Republicans did a lot better than the Democrats did when they were in power.

So when I see Democratic activists pretending to be zombies, or banging pots and pans in the rotunda, or marching in circles around the Capitol with signs comparing Walker to Hitler, or even trying to sneak through bathroom windows into the Capitol hoping to disrupt the Legislature, I’m reminded that it was their childishness that prevented them from being responsible while they were in power. Why should we expect them to be responsible now?

The adults are finally in charge in Madison, and the state is benefitting from it. Not only is the state better off fiscally, businesses are starting to recognize Wisconsin’s new course.

The Democrats mocked when Walker declared, “Wisconsin is open for business.” I guess it takes a business-like attitude to see it.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)



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