For Immediate Release: January 30, 2015
Contact: Senator Janis Ringhand; (608) 266-2253
Fixing Our Current Budget Crisis is a Matter of Setting Priorities
My name is Janis Ringhand and for many of you, I served as your State Representative for the past four years. Many of you have known me as a small business owner in Evansville, alderwoman, bookkeeper or as mayor, but as of January 5, I am officially your State Senator, replacing the retired Senator Tim Cullen.
Our district is comprised of parts of five different counties and includes eastern Green County, most of Rock County and parts of Dane, Jefferson and Walworth Counties. The district includes the cities of Janesville, Beloit, Whitewater, Milton, Edgerton, Brodhead, Evansville; the villages of Albany, Orfordville, Footville, part of Oregon as well as 27 townships. I am proud to serve the 15th Senate District and excited to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
It is already an exciting and busy time at the State Capitol. While Governor Walker is jetting across America in pursuit of his presidential ambitions, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows a $283 million revenue shortfall here in Wisconsin and a projected budget deficit of $2.2 billion. Our current revenue shortfall, for this fiscal year, is more than three and a half times the amount allowed by law.
State law requires that the budget be balanced at year’s end. The current projected shortfall is more than double the amount the Republicans faced in 2011 when they declared a “fiscal crisis” and cut $1.6 billion from public education and stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees, which later became known as Act 10.
There will be a difference of opinions as to the extent of the fiscal crisis and the size of our looming deficit. There will be those using “Madison math” to say that there is no deficit at all. Some of us will use the same kitchen table math that most families use to show that Wisconsin’s recovery from the great recession has been the slowest of all mid-western states and that the priorities of the people of our great state have taken a back seat to one person’s presidential ambitions.
Fixing our current budget crisis is a matter of setting priorities. The same day that Governor Walker announced the formation of a “super-PAC” to raise unlimited, tax-exempt funds to advance his presidential ambitions, he also announced that his first budget priority is to cut an additional $300 million from the University of Wisconsin. At the same time he is asking taxpayers to borrow $220 million to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Less than five years ago, Republicans reacted as if it was the end of the world when Wisconsin contributed $5 million for a new scoreboard at the Bradley Center. Campaign ads were on television, radio and in the mail calling the scoreboard one of the most irresponsible uses of tax-payer dollars in the history of our state. Now they have completely shifted course and want us to borrow $220 million to bail out the Milwaukee Bucks.
On February 3, we will all find out if Governor Walker’s presidential ambitions continue to act as a dragging anchor for Wisconsin’s economic recovery, or if he can find the fortitude to put Wisconsin first.
As always, please feel free to contact my office regarding the budget or any state matter. My door is always open. I can be reached toll-free at 1-800-334-1468 or by email at Sen.Ringhand@legis.wi.gov.