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On Friday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an article quoting the Wisconsin State Legislature’s budget office had reported that under Governor Walker’s budget proposal, the state would be required to borrow nearly $1 billion dollars over the two year period. Most of that money, $994 million, would go to the transportation budget. Now, I am not finding this particularly surprising. We know that the state has committed to a number of high dollar interstate improvements and expansions…and the current trends in travel and fuel efficiency have reduced state revenues for the transportation fund. So it is only reasonable to anticipate the state to issue bonds to make up the short fall.
It is a little surprising that the current governor would take such an approach given the feeling within his party and his support base against increased fees and taxes and government borrowing. So it may become somewhat problematic in the gubernatorial race in 2014 and his holy grail quest of the presidency in 2016. And some of his most outspoken supporters (Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Representatives Dale Kooyenga and John Nygren and Senator Alberta Darling) have already questioned the necessity of borrowing these funds. Apparently Governor Walker’s is beholden to the highway construction corporations beyond his beholden-ness to the tea party and the conservative right.
But that’s not what really bothers me about the announcement. I imagine that the governor’s staff either spent a lot of time developing the new budget proposal or at least pored over it if it was passed down from on high…in either case they own it at this point. But do they actually understand what’s in it and what it means?
To become law, Walker’s proposal must pass both houses of the Legislature and then be signed by the Republican governor. A spokesman for Walker had no comment, saying the administration was still reviewing the new report.
No comment? Really? Without having to read the full report the governor’s office should have a pretty good idea on whether $994 million is correct or close to correct to the amount to be borrowed to fund transportation spending. Are they so out of touch they don’t know their own numbers? Like WEDC, it seems the governor doesn’t have control over his own numbers: our tax money!
PS: there is also the little sidetrack where the Republicans want to prevent future raids on the transportation fund while raiding the general fund for transportation…I wonder if Al Gore can lend us his lock box?
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