By Elaine Magliaro
Earlier this year, I wrote a couple of posts about Governor Scott Walker and the state of the state of Wisconsin: Wisconsin Has Largest Decline of Middle Class of Any State According to New Study and Governor Scott Walker Planning to Cut $300 Million in Funding for the University of Wisconsin…While Proposing $220 Million Investment for Milwaukee Bucks Arena.
Today, Alice Ollstein (ThinkProgress) reported that things are not looking financially rosy for the Badger State. It seems that Walker and his allies “had been counting on increased tax revenue from a rebounding economy to help them avoid painful cuts to the state’s public primary schools and universities” as the deadline to pass a state budget draws ever closer. Ollstein said, however, that “the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau dashed those hopes this week, telling lawmakers that can expect no new revenue at all.”
Ollstein said that one of the biggest contributing factors to Wisconsin’s fiscal crisis is “Governor Walker’s 2011 tax cuts, which disproportionately benefit wealthy property owners and corporations, and have cost more than twice as much as originally predicted.” She said that recent “data shows the credits will cost the state at least $275 million in additional lost tax revenue over the next two years.”
This is almost exactly the amount that Governor Walker wants to slash from the University of Wisconsin system, a threat that has already led several campuses into laying off hundreds of professors and staff.
According to Ollstein, his corporate tax cuts have been “a major cornerstone of Governor Walker’s tenure…” She noted, though, that “the singular focus on slashing taxes has taken the state from a billion dollar surplus to a nearly $2 billion deficit.”
Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast said, “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker talks a good fiscal conservative game on the campaign trail, but his new budget tells a different story.”
His luck with the budget is almost an inversion of his national political trajectory—in the same way that he’s drawn adulation from conservative crowds in New Hampshire and Iowa, he’s drawn rancor from conservative lawmakers in Madison.
Woodruff noted that on the same day that Quinnipiac released its poll results of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers, which showed Walker in first place, “the state’s version of the Congressional Budget Office released a report that had even more bad news for Madison Republicans.” She said, “Walker looks set to wrap up budgeting season not with a bang, but a whimper. And the situation could cast a pall over his campaign rollout.”
I’m not sure the situation will cast a pall over Walker’s campaign rollout. The mainstream media hasn’t done much in-depth reporting on the subject of Wisconsin’s fiscal crisis and the reasons for it–and he still holds onto his early lead in Iowa according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
What do you think?
Scott Walker’s Corporate Tax Breaks Come Back To Haunt Him (ThinkProgress)
Walker’s High Spendin’, Debt Raisin’ Budget (The Daily Beast)