Waiting for Good Dough: Budget Process Is Put on Hold

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 4:39 PM by

Budget Committee Waits for New Revenue Estimates, Despite Other Options

The budget process came to a halt this week, and the surprising hiatus in Joint Finance Committee deliberations brings to mind the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot.  In this case, the “good dough” awaited by the JFC is a higher estimate of tax collections that might be issued by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau sometime next week. Let’s hope that the committee’s wait isn’t in vain, like the long wait for Godot.  

It has already been a week since JFC last met, which is very unusual at this point in the budget process, and the next meeting won’t be held until  Tuesday, May 5th.  That’s disappointing because the delay is likely to compress the decision-making process, despite the fact that there are good alternatives for freeing up needed revenue without raising taxes. 

On the plus side, it has been encouraging that key GOP legislators have said that they would like to undo some of the deep cuts in the Governor’s budget, thereby making budget changes that polling shows have strong public support.  However, Republican leaders have suggested that increases in funding for K-12 education and the UW budget are contingent upon a significant increase in state revenue projections.  That substantially undermines the prospects for budget improvements because it’s unlikely that an increase in projected revenue growth will be large enough to undo much of the severe damage that will result from the cuts proposed by the Governor. 

There is no need for state legislators to make their plans for easing the budget cuts wholly dependent upon a substantial upturn in projected revenue. By realigning budget priorities, Wisconsin can invest in the building blocks of a strong economy without raising taxes. We’ve published a detailed plan that shows how Wisconsin could and should be making better budget choices. We’ve also released a shorter summary of that plan. 

Now we’ve also put forth a short video that shows how Wisconsin can establish a budget that invests in our long-term prosperity and ensures that our state will continue to be a great place to live, work, and do business.  

The current halt in the budget process underscores the importance of having a robust debate about the full range of budget options, rather than relying solely on a possible increase in revenue projections.  

Jon Peacock

2 Responses to “Waiting for Good Dough: Budget Process Is Put on Hold”

  1. Jane. Earl says:

    I am urging our legislators to do everything in their power to keep our education budgets intact — that includes K-12 as well as the UW budgets. What about reviewing tax loopholes?

    • Jon Peacock says:

      I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from recommending to legislators that they review (and close) tax loopholes. In past years we have often recommended that. This session, as the WI Budget Project put together our alternative budget and talked with other groups about what they would support, we decided that rather than including changes that would broaden taxes we would focus instead on an agenda limited to capturing federal funding and to stop making more tax cuts. That said, we haven’t been promoting our alternative budget plan as the only way to avoid budget cuts — it’s meant simply to provide one example of how state lawmakers could find the revenue needed to avoid very damaging cuts to education and other parts of the budget.