Deliberations over the governor's budget are underway at the Capitol. The legislature's Joint Finance Committee heard from Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank first, before state Department of Administration Secretary Michael Morgan briefed the committee on the overall budget. "Happy St. Patrick's Day," Morgan said to the committee. "The luck of the Irish notwithstanding, I'm afraid there's no pot of gold at the end of this budget briefing."
It wasn't until after Frank briefed the committee on the DNR budget that individual members made their general statements on the two year spending plan. JFC co-chair, state Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona), noted the committee begins its work as the bottom drops out of the economy. "We are confronting a greatly reduced amount of revenue coming to the state" said Miller. "We have two ways of responding to that. Let's try to find new revenue sources, or try to cut spending, or a combination of the two. Neither one of those are attractive."
"These are not normal times," Miller said. "And one of the things that I've been very appreciative of is that the members of this committee are ones that I can count on to be able to make those types of difficult decisions. How do we prioritize our spending, and how do we assure that we have sufficient revenue to support the programs that we think are essential."
The problem with the Doyle budget, said Republican state Representative Robin Vos, is that it only gets half of the equation right – new sources of revenue without really cutting spending. And then there's the policy. "This budget isn't just chuck full of numbers, it's also chuck full of ideology," said the Racine Republican. "There are lots of policy items in this budget that have absolutely nothing to do with dealing with the deficit, or with growing Wisconsin's economy."
"Madison math" is how Vos characterized Doyle's two-year, $62.7 billion proposal, which is nearly $3 billion more than the 2007-09 budget. "Borrow more, spend more, grow less. This budget puts more people on government health care, relies on more spending and more borrowing. We hire more state employees, not less. And we increases taxes across the board."
"Overall, our spending is up over seven percent," said state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). "We're putting ourselves into increasing spending, which is one of our biggest problems in Wisconsin."