We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

“State budget by the numbers”

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John Eyster
Thursday, July 11, 2013

“State budget by the numbers”

Grateful to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for publishing as an Op-ed report Bill Lueders summary of our WI State Budget “by the numbers.” What are YOUR comments on the numbers?

If you followed the state budget debate in the legislature, you know that Republican representatives decided to the Center for Investigative e Journalism from the UW-Madison campus. I myself give Governor Scott Walker a GOLD MEDAL for vetoing that provision from the budget. What do YOU think?

The Journal-Sentinel published the following information about Bill Lieders introducing the Op-ed report, “Bill Lieders is the Money & Politics Project director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The project, a partnership of the Center and MapLight, is supported by The Joyce Foundation.

The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

I urge you to read through the numbers. YOU can use this link for access, <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/state-budget-by-the-numbers-b9950438z1-214992351.html" “State budget by the numbers.” I hope you will comment on the numbers which are of special interest – significance to YOU with YOUR comment as to the meaning of the number.

For me, the following numbers were of SPECIAL INTEREST – SIGNIFICANCE:

$19.7 billion, or 28%: Portion that comes from the federal government. I note in spite of Walker’s constant battle against federal money for WI, we have a MAJOR benefit from federal money.

$2.3 billion: Amount of general fund appropriations allocated to the state Department of Corrections. and $2.2 billion: General fund appropriations to the University of Wisconsin System. I noted that we spend somewhat MORE on our WI State prison and corrections system than we do on the UW-system.

58: Number of non-fiscal items in the budget, as initially identified by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. One of the key issues when I was involved as the Legislative Liaison for the School District of Janesville (October 2000 – June 2008) was advocating for the REMOVAL of non-fiscal items from the state budget. Both DEM and REP governors love to have non-fiscal items in the budget because it is the one and only MUST PASS BILL of a legislative session. This is a strategy to get a policy into law in spite of the fact that it might not pass on its “own two feet.” I decry the practice.

23: Number of these items removed by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee. I commend the Joint Finance Committee for the non-fiscal items that it did remove. NOTE: This means that there were still 35 non-fiscal items in the state budget. So, NOT HALF were removed.

59: Number added by Joint Finance. I am not sure whether this number refers to NON-FISCAL items or general provisions added by Joint Finance. I want to find out.

52%: Percentage of the $28.5 billion in general purpose tax revenues in 2013-'15 to come from income taxes. and 7%: Percentage from corporate income and franchise taxes. I noted this comparison. What does it really mean? What do YOU think?

55%: Percentage of the $651 million in tax cuts included in the budget that will go to taxpayers making more than $100,000 a year. To my mind, there was an unreasonable reward given to wealthy WI taxpayers. Furthermore, as I asserted in my WE THE PEPLE blog on June 6, “Shell game with OUR state budget very confusing! Part II – Income Tax Cut – BRIBE for re-election!” Yes, I accuse the Governor and GOP legislators of “BRIBING” (legal, but not ethical) to re-elect them to office. What do YOU think?

$119 million: Additional amount state taxpayers will pay because of the decision by the Walker administration, backed by the Legislature, to reject available federal funds for Medicaid expansion, as estimated by the Fiscal Bureau. Reading media reports from all over the country, I am well aware there are healthy ways for states to negotiate with the federal government and provide appropriate and needed health care for ALL of their citizens. Why is Walker working to reduce health care for WI citizens? What do YOU think?

57: Number of line-item vetoes issued by Walker to the budget bill. Remember: The Governor of WI has the MOST POWERFUL “line-item veto” among ALL governors in the US.

0: Amount the state will save from budget provisions barring local governments from 1) requiring their employees to live in the communities where they work; 2) passing erosion controls that are stricter than those in state law; and 3) restricting food and nonalcoholic beverage sales based on calories, portion size or nutritional value. These are all NON-FISCAL items included in the budget. WHY should they NOT be dealt with in separate bills? I would assert not one single one of these bills would pass as a separate bill. What do YOU think?

WI State budget by the numbers! I am looking forward to reading your comments.

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 8:25 am Monday, July 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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