However, what is proposed is not short term austerity; what is proposed is a permanent elimination of nearly all collective bargaining. This is a radical attack on public employees that has nothing to do with the state’s current financial situation.
The state is hardly “broke,” by the way. In the current biennial budget, which is the subject of this so-called budget adjustment, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says that we will finish the year with a surplus. Recently, the fiscal bureau said that the “budget repair” actually reduces the surplus by $13.5 million.
Even if the state were to pay out things that it need not pay out this fiscal year, the shortfall would be $130 million; not a cause for panic in our more than $50 billion budget. In fact, Governor Walker has proposed refinancing the state’s debt, which would produce $165 million, more than enough to cover any current shortfall.
In the coming biennium, it is projected that we could run a deficit of about $3.5 billion, a substantial amount, but a lot less than the $5.8 billion that we dealt with last biennium, when I was on the Joint Committee on Finance. We balanced that budget without the kind of radical measures that are proposed. One cannot help but conclude that the radical measures are the real goal, not a means to a necessary end.