By Benjamin Yount for Watchdog.org
Republican lawmakers in Madison knew Gov. Tony Evers would want to spend more and raise taxes. He campaigned on it.
But Republicans at the statehouse now say they’re shocked at just how much Evers’ proposed budget would spend.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau last week said Evers’ two-year state budget would spend $2 billion more than Wisconsin has to spend.
“The LFB numbers are worse than the initial analysis when the budget was first introduced a few weeks back,” state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt said. “The fact is that the longer the voters of Wisconsin examine Tony Evers’ budget, the more it seems to spend and the higher their taxes go.”
The LFB report shows Evers wanting to spend $19.7 billion next year. The state will only bring in $18.8 billion. The spending gap is even larger in the second year. LFB shows Ever’s plan would spend $19.9 billion, while Wisconsin would bring in the same $18.8 billion.
“He plans to burn through $1.8 billion in projected new revenue, raise taxes over $1 billion, allow property taxes to increase, and then still have a nearly $2 billion deficit,” Thiesfeldt added.
State Rep. Ron Tusler said he sees the governor’s budget not as a specific, detailed plan for managing state government, but more of a policy statement coming off an election.
“This is the exact opposite of budgeting,” Tusler said Tuesday. “This is asking for everything you can think of, and throwing the whole kitchen sink and seeing what sticks.”
Tusler and most other Republicans in Madison say Evers’ budget ends in one place: With higher taxes.
“Our state right now is in a good fiscal place. We’ve been really responsible in the past,” Tusler said. “And to increase the size of our government by 10 percent, to increase the amount of spending so that at some point we’ll have to tax people at more than a thousand dollars more per person. That would be irresponsible.”
Evers proposed spending more on road construction when he introduced his budget. He also said he wants to spend more on schools.
But Evers is also looking to expand Medicaid by enrolling at least 80,000 people in the state. And he is proposing to hire hundreds of more state employees.
“Most of the money is not for better facilities. It’s for more administrators, more government employees,” Tusler said of the extra spending in Evers’ budget. “It’s really a focus on increasing the size of government.”
The two Republicans who will lead the budget-making process in Madison, state Sen Alberta Darling and state Rep. John Nygren, called the Evers’ budget all but dead on arrival.
“Luckily for taxpayers,” the two wrote in a joint statement, “Republicans are willing to do the hard work and deliver a budget that doesn’t raise taxes, invests in priorities like education, and doesn’t max out the credit cards.”
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for Watchdog.org