One Year Later: More Big Changes on Tap?
Over the past several days, we have explored some of the big changes that have taken place in Wisconsin’s budget priorities during the first half of the 2011-13 biennium. The unbalanced, cuts-only approach that marked the most recent state budget is having a major impact on some of the state’s most important systems and institutions, an impact being felt by Wisconsinites of all ages in every part of state.
Here’s a quick summary of the impacts and challenges we have examined in this series of blog posts:
- Deep cuts to school aid, tighter revenue caps for districts, and changes in public sector labor laws have resulted in teacher layoffs and greater disparities between districts.
- Working people are paying more in state taxes, while wealthy people and corporations are paying less.
- 17,000 adults have lost BadgerCare coverage, and many people remaining in the program must pay a greater share of the cost of their health care.
- In spite of tax breaks designed to spur the economy, Wisconsin has lagged the rest of the nation in job creation and economic development.
- While nearly every area of the state budget was cut—including state aid for local road repairs and public transit—resources available for highways have increased.
- Major reductions in state aid to communities have resulted in cutbacks to a wide array of local services, such as snow removal, crossing guards, and sanitation.
- Huge cuts in state funding for technical colleges have come at a time when demand for tech school education and training is at an all-time high.
This list represents just of few of the major impacts of the 2011-13 state budget. As we move into year two of the biennium, it’s important to monitor how Wisconsin residents are being affected by these changes, since the beginning of the next budget process is just around the corner; state agencies will submit their budget requests to the Department of Administration in September.
As that process moves along, it is essential that Wisconsin residents make their voices heard on budget issues that affect them, and consider whether the priorities reflected in the state budget are consistent with their own priorities. We encourage readers to ask whether our infrastructure can withstand another round of deep spending cuts made deeper than necessary by the absence of any corresponding revenue increases. And we urge lawmakers to abandon job creation strategies that have proven ineffective at sparking economic growth while worsening the state revenue picture.
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