It's nice to see Christian Schneider take Julie Lassa to task for blaming the recession for the state's deficit woes in the last biennium. He wrote on Charlie Sykes' blog:
Lassa thinks that merely pointing out the fact the U.S. was in a recession is enough to wash her hands of the state deficit. But, in fact, the rest of the report shows specifically how actions by the Legislature contributed to future deficits; most notably, the use of one-time federal "stimulus" funds that won't be available in the next budget.
In case you don't understand Schneider's use of quotation marks around the word stimulus, I will explain. Because WPRI is committed to the narrative that only tax breaks can stimulate the economy, it refuses to believe that the funds that saved local and state governments from massive cuts in public services, and which the CBO credits with preventing higher unemployment, were anything but a total waste of money. Ironic punctuation is used to advance that point.
Nevertheless, Schneider is correct in writing that projected budget deficits are nothing new in Wisconsin. Curiously, neither he or Charlie Sykes, who he uses as one of his sources, extend their criticism of irresponsible budgeting to the time before Jim Doyle took office. If they had, they probably would have had to confront the fact that Wisconsin's most recent convert to the Tea Party, Tommy G. Thompson, was actually the big government guru who laid the foundation for a decade of structural deficits.
Under the leadership of Thompson and large Republican majorities, the state of Wisconsin assumed huge obligations in education and corrections spending. The first came from a commitment from the state to fund 2/3 of the costs of public education. Although many claim the state has failed to meet this commitment, state spending on schools increased drastically nevertheless. On corrections, the spending hikes were even more pronounced, as the state more than doubled its prison population and boosted corrections spending more than 250 percent.
Then of course there were tax cuts. The state gave out $700 million in sales tax rebates and the marginal tax rate was lowered. I'll let this WPRI report say the rest:
January 2003 greeted a new Governor and a new Legislature with a gaping budget hole of $3.2 billion.
You guys are right. It is "Politicrap" for Julie Lassa to blame the recession for the budget gaps. She really should blame Tommy Thompson.