June 18, 2015

Absentee Governor fails at budgeting… again.

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

As a member of the state budget committee, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the budget delay. The question I’m asked most about lately is why isn’t the budget committee even meeting?

The answer is simple. Governor Walker’s budget is so bad that even Republicans don’t want to vote for it. Now that’s saying something!

Since Governor Walker took office in 2011, his budgets have been driven by his political aspirations, with little regard for what’s best for Wisconsin. Does that sound familiar? That’s the same way Walker budgeted when he was Milwaukee County Executive. So when you hear Walker or Republican legislators justify their deep budget cuts to K-12 education, the UW System or their failure to invest in our community, don’t let them get away with saying it is because our state is strapped for cash.

The deficits Walker created were self-inflicted. At the same time Minnesota had about a $1 billion budget surplus, which they mostly dedicated to public education, Wisconsin had a deficit about twice that. The Walker deficit was a result of bad budgeting. Republicans gave away tax breaks to the wealthiest while failing to invest in job creation that would have helped our economy grow.

The head scratcher is that total spending under Walker is up more than $10 billion. Total spending under former Governor Jim Doyle’s last budget was about $62 billion. Under the Walker budget, our total spending is expected to be about $73 billion. Seems like the state has plenty of resources to invest in important programs, right? Think again. Under Walker, state spending for the UW is down $566 million according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Our K-12 spending is down about $100 per pupil. Education should be our top priority. Yet, we spend more on the Department of Corrections than we do on the UW System.

Budgets are about more than just dollars and cents. They are about priorities, and Walker’s priorities are all wrong. The Walker budget doesn’t make sense or cents, unless you are wealthy. Under Walker, taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent are down. At the same time, median family incomes and our state’s job rankings compared to the rest of the nation are both down as well. When Walker led us to believe job creation was his top priority, he either lied or he failed.

Look around your neighborhood. Do you think Walker has been a success? Is your community better off since Walker became governor? How is he supposed to turn Wisconsin around when he’s barely here? Did you know that in the first 134 days of this year, Walker was out of the state or out of the country at least 59 of those days?

Just like County Executive Scott Walker put his gubernatorial ambitions ahead of Milwaukee, Governor Scott Walker has put his presidential ambitions ahead of the needs of the state. In fact, he’s put his political ambitions ahead of public policy so long, I doubt if State Representative Scott Walker bumped into Presidential hopeful Scott Walker, that they’d even recognize each other.

Milwaukee County already knows what it is like to be neglected in favor of
Walker’s political ambitions. Now the entire state is getting a taste of what that feels like.