The state Senate's majority leader traces Wisconsin's budget woes to Washington. Senator Russ Decker of Wausau, reacts to the state's new budget deficit number: 5.4 billion for the next biennium. "It's always tough when the budget has a deficit like we do, and we're going to have to come up with one way of fixing that," says Decker. "The other thing is, come up with an economic stimulus package that puts people to work."
Decker figures the legislature may need to be in Madisin in January to fix a 3$44 million shortfall in the current state budget. Decker, a Democrat, lays the blame for Wisconsin's fiscal woes on the outgoing GOP administration in Washington. "Bush and the Republicans . . . proved that the spending spree that they want on, and the massive tax cuts to big businesses, especially big oil, proved to be the wrong way to get the economy going." Governor Jim Doyle has directed state agencies to cut more from their budgets and limited state hiring, and wants lawmakers to approve a hospital assessment — something Decker says should have happened in the last session.