Not having a new state budget is not a crisis. Wisconsin is not like the federal government. Government does not shut down when there isn’t a new budget. The spending continues at the same levels as before.
It’s been ten years since Wisconsin had a real budget marathon battle. In 2007, the budget fight between Republicans and Democrats lasted until October. In case you’re wondering, the state survived that budget fight, too.
There are some consequences, of course. School boards are not sure yet how much more in state aid they’ll be able to expect until the state budget is done. However, per pupil spending state aid is not going down, so school districts have some idea what to expect.
Transportation spending, the issue that’s causing the current budget impasse, will be affected if there isn’t a budget soon. Some projects will have to be delayed until legislators can agree to raise taxes and fees or do more borrowing. But we’re not there yet, and even after a budget is complete the state will have to re-prioritize construction projects based on the new budget.
Of course, the Democrats are already running around in silly t-shirts and issuing statements saying the Republicans can’t govern. The Duluth News Tribune caught up with state Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee:
“I would think that when the Republicans control the governorship, control both houses of the Legislature, and they can’t govern, that’s a serious problem,” Kessler said.
Kessler’s easy solution is to raise taxes, of course.
But Democrats should be a little less willing to brag about how easy they found governing. In the last state budget they controlled, they increased taxes by $2 billion and allowed property taxes to rise another $1.5 billion. That was after another state budget that didn’t balance and the Democrats had to raise taxes again midway through.
Now Republicans are debating how much more to spend on schools and how much to cut the state income tax while eliminating the state property tax. Government may not always run smoothly, but it beats making bad decisions in haste like the Democrats did.