I have plenty of gripes about politicians. Probably my biggest issue is their widespread inability to live within their means… that is, create a budget that works based upon the tax dollars coming in. Less money coming in means that less money should be spent. It’s not a highly complicated concept. It’s just basic math.
But Wisconsin’s governor, Jim Doyle, is crying about a huge deficit in a budget that hasn’t even been created yet! What’s he doing is setting us up so we won’t be upset when he adds all sorts of new and increased fees to our tax burden. (Never mind that we’re already one of the top ten taxed states in the union!)
Doyle is saying that the current budget period, which ends June 30, 2009, will have a deficit of $500 million. And the budget period from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011 will have a deficit of $4.5 billion, for a total of $5 billion.
You might have noticed that we’re nearly 8 months away from June 30, and the next budget period hasn’t started yet. It’s clear that there’s plenty of time to change spending habits to avoid the deficit Doyle is crying about.
Instead of talking about how Doyle is going to spend less in this era of belt-tightening across the country, he’s reminding us how much he is going to keep spending regardless of whether the state has the money or not. In total, Doyle is already planning to overspend by over $156 million a month between now and June 30, 2011. That’s $8.2 million a day that Doyle is going to overspend.
That $8.2 billion is not the amount of spending each day… that’s just the part of spending each day that will exceed the funds the state will have available. With a two-year budget of $33 billion, the state spends $1.375 billion a month, or $45.2 million a day.
And check out what the governor has to say about all of this, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“I am going to do everything humanly possible to avoid any general tax increase. We got through the last significant deficit (in 2003) without raising taxes, and that is what I really want to accomplish here. (But) if you finally get to a point where you would just have to destroy schools or have such high tuition increases at the university that ordinary people wouldn’t be able to afford it, you know, then you have to look at everything.”
Translation: Taxpayers, I’m going to stick it to you big time. No mention of reigning in spending. Nope, just justification for why the state has to continue to spend my money at an unsustainable rate.
Here’s a very simple solution to the problem: spend less. The state needs to cut programs and employees, just like any other business that has a decline. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Doyle is acting like he’s required to overspend, both now and in a budget period that doesn’t start for another 8 months.