State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
I believe the Governor is in denial. Wisconsin is to blame for the economic peril the state finds itself in, due to horrible budgeting and a failure to control spending. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate how Wisconsin is responsible for digging a massive budget hole.
No matter the methodology used to examine our state finances, the final tally is alarming. The next state budget deficit, according to government accounting, is $900 million. Using real world accounting, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the state’s general fund deficit for fiscal year 2007 is $2.44 billion.
The 2007-09 budget the Governor signed and that I voted against increased taxes and fees by $763 million. The Governor tampered with Indian gaming funds and the Patient’s Compensation Fund. Because of the Governor’s actions, millions of dollars budgeted on a hope and a prayer are now in jeopardy.
The current state budget assumes that a court will order the Ho-Chunk tribe to make payments to the state that the tribe says it does not owe. The state Department of Administration estimates the tribe will owe about $72 million in fees under its gambling compact by June 30, 2009. A lawsuit over the money is pending in federal court. There are no guarantees that the state will win the lawsuit, receive as much as it is seeking, or that payment will be received during the current budget cycle.
The State Medical Society has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent $200 million from being transferred from the Patient’s Compensation Fund to the Medical Assistance trust fund to pay for Medicaid costs. The budget raid by the Governor is not uncommon. Remember, in the 2005-07 state budget, the Governor used his veto pen to transfer $427 million from the transportation fund to the general fund.
Wisconsin is suffering from a shortfall in tax collections. Collections are far below the three percent they were projected to be, coming in at only 0.8 percent. Blaming Washington is wrong. Wisconsin has taxed and spent itself into budget oblivion. If this trend continues, the state budget will be thrown into greater chaos. I fear the Governor will embrace tax increases and more funding raids. The Governor and the Legislature need to be more straightforward about the state of our state economy and the necessary solutions. With revenues down and a state in a huge deficit, we need to put the brakes on spending.