DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch: Wisconsin has budget deficits for fiscal years 2012 & 2013

Have you heard those new TV ads Republican Gov. Scott Walker is running touting how he eliminated Wisconsin’s budget deficits?

Don’t believe a word Walker says, because Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch has the truth, which is that Wisconsin has projected budget deficits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

What’s more, if we use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to take a look at Gov. Walker’s first biennial budget (as Walker himself promised to do as a candidate), we’d have budget deficits in the billions of dollars.

We examined Walker’s first budget, the 2011-13 biennial budget, to see if he lived up to his promise to balance the budget using GAAP.

There’s a chart every two years in the state budget demonstrating the bottom line under GAAP. The chart in the Walker administration’s Budget in Brief shows that the 2011-13 budget was not close to balanced by that standard.

In fact, the document shows that based on GAAP accounting, the state would have been left with a deficit of $3 billion by 2012-13 under Walker’s budget. That compares to the $2.9 billion GAAP deficit he inherited at the end of Doyle’s term, the state’s financial statements show.

So when Gov. Scott Walker says he’s eliminated Wisconsin’s budget deficit, he’s all rhetoric, no reality. Scott Walker didn’t eliminate Wisconsin’s budget deficits; he simply kicked the can down the road the same as his predecessors.

1-17-12: Uniquely Wisconsin

It has been twenty-four hours since I left Madison to return home to Waukesha and I’m still glowing. From the recall petition drops to the Solidarity Sing-Along to the party at the Monona Terrace, 1-17-12 will be a day I’ll never forget. Many citizens who traveled across the state to converge in Madison echoed the same sentiments. It was a day of restoration of faith in our fellow citizens, the start of returning Wisconsin to its pre-Walker glory, and an event filled with much-needed community healing.

Robert, a gentleman I met on Tuesday, told me that he “loves Wisconsin” and has always been proud of his state, but ever since Scott Walker took office he’s been embarrassed to admit he lives here. “Around the country, Wisconsin’s really looked upon as the state that turned its back on its people,” Robert said. “(Walker) does not care about the economically challenged people, the middle class people, the small business owners…the corporate people, those are Scott Walker’s cronies.” That realization had left Robert feeling “down in the dumps.”

But Robert’s outlook improved significantly on Tuesday when he learned that over a million signatures had been collected, more than enough to trigger a Walker/Kleefisch recall. Robert said “there are more of us then there are of them,” and that he is “very proud to say I’m from Wisconsin again.”

Indeed, Scott Walker’s radical political agenda had divided Wisconsinites, causing many of us to feel down in the dumps, as he purposefully drove a wedge between private sector and public sector workers to advance his own political agenda. Wisconsin been a tense state in which to live over the past year.

But Walker’s antics and the recall process itself also sparked a completely new phenomenon that ignited quickly and burned brightly: the advent of the #wiunion community.

For those unfamiliar with twitter, “#wiunion” is a “hashtag” that is often used to easily locate information about topics related to the Wisconsin uprising over the past year. The hashtag has also served as a tool to unite like-minded individuals, each with his/her own unique twitter “name.”

One year ago today, I had no idea who “@bluecheddar1” was, but on Tuesday, we embraced in the Capitol rotunda like long-lost relatives, after participating in the lunch-hour Solidarity Sing-Along (another new, uniquely Wisconsin phenomenon.)

“Blue” is just one example of a twitter friend, or “tweep” I met as a result of Walker’s attack on middle-class Wisconsin families. At the same Solidarity sing-along, I recognized another  #wiunion buddy, “@battiestgirl”, from her Time magazine photo. Within the space of ten minutes, several more “tweeps” gathered around, as we hugged and squealed slightly.

Not all new connections were formed via twitter and Facebook, however. Numerous face-to-face groups and organizations were created as people struggled to come to terms with the new reality in Wisconsin. Some of these groups travelled together on busses from Milwaukee to Madison to witness the unloading of a U-Haul filled with 3,000 pounds of recall petitions at the office of the Government Accountability Board. Many had missed the Fitzgerald petition drop, as it took place earlier that morning, but the Walker-Kleefisch drop was extremely well-attended.

Following the powerful visual of the volunteers carrying the recall petitions to the GAB office, everyone rushed over to the warmth of the Monona Terrace to await the celebration, complete with speakers and free beer.

Upon entering Monona Terrace, we were greeted with, “Congratulations, folks, the party’s that way.” As I stepped aside to remove my cumbersome winter gear, I listened as the greeters repeated a similar welcome to throngs of others, eliciting delighted responses, laughter and “thank yous.” We were directed toward the lower level, where I heard “oohs” and “ahs” as guests snapped photos of the party room down below through giant fishbowl windows. It was just after 4:30pm, and the place was filling up rapidly.

It felt like coming home.

I couldn’t take two steps without running into someone I had volunteered with, someone I knew from Twitter or Facebook, or people from my own area, Waukesha County. Also in attendance were such Democratic greats as Mark Pocan, Peter Barca, Chris Larson, Mahlon Mitchell, and many more. We listened to music and to several speakers, including Mike Tate and Phil Neuenfeldt, head of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

John Nichols rounded out the line-up, and, unsurprisingly, really nailed his speech. He told us that citizens who don’t want to be ruled by corporate interests have “weapons” in our arsenal in the fight “to keep our democracy,” and one of the biggest weapons is “Recall Power.”

But Nichols really summed up 1-17-12 and all of our struggles and subsequent connections of the entire last year in one sentence. Said Nichols, “Above all, this is a Wisconsin moment.”


Who pays for the pensions of Wisconsin’s public employees? Not Wisconsin’s taxpayers!

Read as Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston sets the record straight about who actually contributes to public employee pensions.

How can that be? Because the “contributions” consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply “contribute more” to Wisconsin’ s retirement system (or as the argument goes, “pay their fair share” of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin’ s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.

The labor agreements show that the pension plan money is part of the total negotiated compensation. The key phrase, in those agreements I read (emphasis added), is: “The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee.” This shows that this is just divvying up the total compensation package, so much for cash wages, so much for paid vacations, so much for retirement, etc.

It’s also worth noting that multiple studies of public employee pension systems agree that Wisconsin’s public employee pension system is fully funded, so Gov. Scott Walker’s rhetoric about how public employees really really needed to pay more into their pension in order to keep things solvent was just that – rhetoric, not reality.

An honest challenge to Cindy K

Over the last few years, I have pretty much given up on following the conservative bloggers in the state, because 1) they don’t care for me and 2) I don’t care for them so 3) screw that.

But I still follow some of the more reasonable ones on twitter, since it’s not a bad idea to know what the other side is saying.

So I’ve been watching as Cindy Kilkenny rides her new hobby horse:

I was reading an article on the line up of potential Dem candidates and that there will most likely be a primary for that side of the ballot.

What if I ran?

I mean, one doesn’t have to declare a party loyalty to register to vote here, nor is one required to be a dues-paying member of any party organization.

 Sure, it could just be a joke, but in comments to that post she starts laying out a platform that differs from Scott Walker’s.  Not by a lot, you know, but she talks specifically about Act 10, and how she would have pushed changes that “feel less like union busting” and kept local control.

So here’s my challenge to Cindy–and I’m serious here though I have tussled with her in the past:  Run as a Republican.  Seriously, Cindy, you and Tim Cullen would be pretty hard to tell apart in the Democratic primary.  So instead of mounting a challenge to Democrats from the right (or center, if you prefer), challenge Walker from the left (or, you know, center).

If you’re serious about “governing more from the middle” and think that Wisconsinites of all stripes would prefer that to either Walker’s hard right turn or the several flavors of center-left offered by the likely Dem candidates, then run.  But run as who you are, a moderate Republican, and not as some half-winking spoiler.

Let’s be honest, Cindy, you were one of Walker’s most vocal Republican critics during primary 2010.  I doubt there’s much good will left to worry about saving by running on the Democratic ballot.

So do it.  Set up your committee to run as a Republican in the gubernatorial recall, and I’ll be your first $50 donor.