When the legislature starts its new session, state Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) says it's obvious what priority number one will be: fixing the state's $5.4 billion budget hole.
However, Kreitlow doesn't think the deficit is really as big as has been advertised. He says the high number is essentially the result of a "Christmas wish list" from agencies throughout the state, which will drop as things are cut from the budget. Kreitlow also expects the deficit to drop the end of January, after the state gets its new revenue forecasts, trimmed down agency budgets and possible help from the Federal Government.
The Chippewa Falls Democrat admits it will still be a tough budget though. He says cuts will need to be made in areas where lawmakers don't want to trim cuts. Delaying new state programs may also be necessary, such as expanding BadgerCare Plus to cover childless adults.
While Kreitlow doesn't expect an increase to the state sales tax, he says it would be irresponsible to take it off the table. Still, he says it's the last thing the state needs to be doing as people across Wisconsin are struggling with a recession.