Friday, January 23, 2015

Walker’s 2015 budget deficit is two times larger than what it was in 2011

Doyle’s deficit was the result of economic catastrophe; Walker’s deficit came during a time of national prosperity

In January of 2011 Wisconsin was dealing with a $137 million budget deficit. Gov. Scott Walker considered the deficit a failure of the Jim Doyle administration, the governor who proceeded him in office.

Using this deficit, Gov. Walker justified stripping public employees of their bargaining rights, and raised the amounts that they would have to contribute towards their health and pension plans.

Over the course of the next four years, Walker and his Republican allies in the legislature made several other “reforms,” including significant tax breaks that mainly benefited the wealthy in the state. Oftentimes the effects of these tax cuts were exaggerated, with Walker claiming that the typical family saw significant savings. In reality they only amounted to an extra fast-food value meal per week for the average middle class family.

Fast-forward to this year: today we discover that Wisconsin’s 2015 deficit, at $283 million, is more than two times larger than it was in 2011.

Walker and Republicans aren’t too worried about the budget deficit. They aren’t even planning on producing a budget repair bill, like they did in 2011.

Doing so, of course, would be an admission of defeat, of recognizing a failure of Walker’s budgeting tactics. Yet that’s precisely what’s needed from this administration -- an admission that, through all of their reforms, their tax breaks, and everything else they rammed through legislatively, they were putting Wisconsin on the wrong path.

But there’s more to ponder over. Consider this: former Gov. Doyle’s budget deficit came during the middle of a global economic recession. Thousands of Wisconsinites flooded welfare programs that weren’t properly funded to handle such a catastrophic event. It’s hard to blame Doyle for a deficit when you remember that the entire country -- and nations across the world -- were going through the same thing. 

Conversely Gov. Scott Walker’s budget deficit (again, twice the size of Doyle’s) came amid a national economic recovery. The United States as a whole is doing much better than it was in 2011. In fact, since Obama came into office in 2009 the national deficit has been cut by nearly two-thirds. So while the national deficit has been reduced, the state deficit has doubled.

Tell us, Gov. Walker -- is it really “working” in Wisconsin? If you’re honest with yourself, you know the answer to be “no.”

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