Details Needed on State Budget Cuts
Among gubernatorial candidates, only Barrett offers a specific plan
So why has
only one candidate—Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat—offered a detailed
plan of cuts and efficiencies? And why have the two “fiscal
conservatives”—Republicans Scott Walker and Mark Neumann—offered nothing but
general ideas and one headline-grabbing gimmick?
campaign spokeswoman said Walker
would outline his plans to cut spending throughout the campaign.
cost-saving proposal released so far is to ask state employees to pay their
full employee contribution toward their pension, an idea that Walker says will save $180 million per year.
various unions that represent state employees will accept this change is
campaign website, Walker promises “government spending and reform” measures,
including starting the state budget at zero, changing accounting procedures,
stripping “policy and pork projects” from the budget—he doesn’t define “pork”
and policy proposals are already routinely removed from the budget—not raiding
segregated funds for other programs and restoring Wisconsin’s reputation for
clean and honest government.
than asking state employees to contribute more toward their pension plans, Walker has no detailed
cuts for voters to mull over and inform their decisions.
Likewise, Walker’s challenger in
the Republican primary, former Congressman Mark Neumann, offers few details
about what he’d cut.
In an e-mail
to the Shepherd, Neumann’s spokesman
Chris Lato wrote that Neumann “is not singling out line items and everything is
on the table.”
Neumann is proposing to limit the growth rate of spending to 1% less than the
rate of inflation, saying that spending less than the revenue generated by the
state will result in reduced taxes for Wisconsin
spending cut [Neumann] is proposing is an across-the-board effort to implement
fiscal discipline throughout state government,” Lato wrote. “He is not cherry-picking certain items in the massive state budget.”
Although Walker and Neumann won’t detail what
programs they would cut, they have proposed tax cuts that would decrease state
revenue about $1 billion during the next two-year budget cycle. Those tax
breaks are mainly for the wealthy, argues the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now.
For example, Walker and Neumann want to re-open the
“Las Vegas loophole” for Wisconsin
businesses with phony offices in other states ($375 million); cut taxes for the
top 1% of income earners ($287 million); and increase the capital gains tax
deduction ($243 million). Walker
also wants to eliminate $1 billion in taxes on retirement income.
Barrett: Find Health Care, Energy and Corrections
Democrat Barrett has offered a more detailed plan for what he calls “putting Madison on a diet,” and
has identified more than $1.1 billion in savings in the state budget.
those savings include:
- Pooling state, county, municipal and vocational or school district employees to increase their purchasing power for health care. Barrett estimates $339 million will be saved per year.
- Charging BadgerCare Plus enrollees higher monthly premiums for more expensive plans, which will encourage more enrollees to select lower-cost plans. That would save an estimated $200 million annually.
- Reducing the cost of incarceration by using community corrections programs and alternative sentencing programs where appropriate. An estimated $58 million would be saved annually.
- Saving $34 million in state government by eliminating the offices of secretary of state and state treasurer; reviewing all regulatory programs, commissions and boards every 10 years with an eye toward ending them; consolidating and reorganizing state programs; and reducing the number of state workers hired to replace retiring employees.
- Expanding energy-efficiency measures and setting higher energy-efficiency targets to save an estimated $44 million per year.
- Reducing fraudulent Medicaid billing by at least 20%, which would produce almost $40 million per year in savings.