Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast has an excellent read on Gov. Scott Walker’s high spending, debt raising budget and the problems it could pose for his 2016 presidential aspirations.
There’s just one itsy bitsy little thing in between the governor and his big announcement: the budget.
Since he laid out his budget proposal in February, it’s attracted predominantly negative press attention and stirred up considerable controversy in his home state.
His luck with the budget is almost an inversion of his national political trajectory—in the same way that he’s drawn adulation from conservative crowds in New Hampshire and Iowa, he’s drawn rancor from conservative lawmakers in Madison.
The same day that Quinnipiac released its glowing results, the state’s version of the Congressional Budget Office released a report that had even more bad news for Madison Republicans.
Due to these tensions, Walker looks set to wrap up budgeting season not with a bang, but a whimper. And the situation could cast a pall over his campaign rollout.
The Badger State has long been dogged by a swelling debt burden and tough fiscal times. Walker looked to end the Bad Old Days with tax cuts and tough-on-union cost-cutting.
In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, he presented himself as the antithesis of then-incumbent Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, touting his penny-pinching lifestyle and his budget-slashing days as Milwaukee County Executive. During his 2014 re-election bid, he kept beating the anti-Doyle drum. Things are getting better, he argued, and we can’t look back.
Governing is complicated, and a magic supply-sider panacea for the state’s budgetary woes has yet to materialize. The state’s outstanding debt peaked under Walker in December of 2012 at $14.2 billion. Two years later, it had gone down to $14 billion.
Budget analysts say that, depending on how the legislature times its next round of bonding and debt-repayment, the state could top that $14.2 billion record during the next budgeting period.
Which brings us to Walker’s current situation.
The Wisconsin state government does budgeting for two-year periods, or bienniums.
When Walker proposed his budget for the 2015-2017 biennium on February 3, it drew prompt criticism from fellow Madison Republicans.
Three elements of his proposal made them particularly squeamish: a $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin system, a $127 million cut to K-12 education, and $1.3 billion in new debt to pay for transportation projects.