Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Post-budget sticker shock

State budget

By law, Wisconsin is required to have a balanced budget in place every two years with a July 1 deadline for implementation. The 2009-2011 state budget was signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 29, 2009.

The next budget already has a huge gaping hole. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau projects the as yet to be addressed 2011-2013 state budget has a structural deficit of over $2 billion. In other words, projected revenues will not be anywhere near enough to cover committed costs in the next state budget.

You can take our budget fiasco and multiply it by 50.  A budget crisis is occurring in each and every state in America. Therefore, a state experiencing a budget shortfall is not an exclusive story.

Here is the real news bulletin. Governing Magazine in its latest issue reports:

he real problem may be that the news coming out of capitols hasn’t been shocking enough. States have used the federal stimulus money in most cases to ease the current shortfalls, rather than to help them face up to the prospect of future long-term deficits. (Stimulus dollars made up about 40 percent of states’ shortfalls this year.) Rather than planning ahead, lawmakers have done their best to muddle through this year's woes, hoping that an economic turnaround will make budgets easier to deal with in the near future.

That, however, seems unlikely. Many states begin this new fiscal year looking at fresh shortfalls that will require action within a matter of months. State revenue sources tend to be lagging indicators, meaning that even if the economy were to start growing again tomorrow, it would take quite a while before tax collections perked up.”

Governing Magazine is correct in its analysis. There is a real possibility that before the year is over, the state Legislature will quickly be called upon to consider another budget adjustment bill (The Legislature approved one in February of this year).

How will Democrats that control the governor’s mansion and both houses of the Legislature respond? If their track record is any indication, it seems more tax and fee increases and borrowing are in store, possibly before the end of fall.

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