On Tuesday night Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will enter the statehouse amid what is expected to be a major winter storm blowing across the state. Winter winds are expected to be at blizzard proportions.
Governor Walker will stand in the State Assembly Chambers and give his first State Of The State address. It is then a wind of a different type will blow.
Some might refer to Governor Walker’s gusts as blowing smoke.
News that Governor Walker signed a bill that removes two years of taxes for any business that moves to Wisconsin sounds grand on the face of it. After all, it gives the impression that Walker is pro-active and determined to fulfill his campaign pledge of creating jobs.
There was also the report that Walker added $25 million in tax credits to a state economic development program. Again, the push for economic development is in high gear. Who could oppose such bold and decisive action in this time of economic turmoil?
What is not so apparent at first blush when reading about all this energized action from the Walker team is that as a result of these moves, and others like it, the size of the state’s huge budget deficit is growing.
Let us not forget that just a few months ago there was a hue and cry that serious-minded Republicans were needed to be elected to stop the red ink from flowing. They repeated in mantra-type speeches the state faced a $3.3 billion shortfall in the 2011-’13 budget, and careless spending had to end.
Yet the special session bills that Walker and his Republicans seem intent on marshalling through the legislative process increases the red ink in the 2011-’13 budget by up to $142 million.
Clearly deeper budget cuts in Wisconsin are going to be required from health programs, education, transportation, local aids, and countless other sources to make up for the cozy relations that business is about to enjoy in Wisconsin.
As I have been watching all this take place at the Capitol I have pondered two points.
First, after Congressional Republicans in Washington forced an extension of the Bush tax cuts in late December many of those same people are outraged that the federal deficit projections continue to be a red-inked tsunami.
It was as if those Republicans had not read the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation report showing households earning more than $1 million a year would reap nearly $31 billion in tax breaks under the GOP idea of allowing the rich to keep their tax cuts. Or that all those tax cuts would create more red ink for the federal government.
Republicans like to paint liberal Democrats as the ones who spend foolishly without regard to the fiscal impact on the budget. Should not the Republicans admit to foolishly providing tax cuts of one type of another at every opportunity regardless of the harm it causes to the budget?
Second, I thought that the Republicans were opposed to stimulus funding. Was it not the GOP that scoffed at the idea of using the government to prime the pump of the economy for the past two years? Yet, here in Wisconsin the GOP are now passing clearly stimulative tax measures, and we are all to think it is a good idea.
If only blowing smoke were an art form………..
The bottom line is that there will be a price to be paid for the ‘anything for business’ atmosphere that is all the rage in Governor Walker’s Wisconsin.
The ones smoking the cigars at the Madison Club are not the ones to feel the wrath of the budget cuts. The inner city kids, the elderly, college students, public employees, and countless others will suffer.
I suspect when the State Of The State speech is over there will be many such as myself who will feel the need to step outside into the cold brisk snowy night and clear our heads.
Question is who will air out the Assembly Chamber after Walker’s speech?