Wisconsin Democrats on Monday called out the governor on the budget shortfall, on the heels of Scott Walker’s first significant foray into the Iowa presidential run-up. “While he is out there interviewing for his next job, it is really important that we focus here at home,” Senator Jennifer Shilling said. The La Crosse Democrat said a projected shortfall in the current budget year is more than enough to trigger a budget repair bill.
“Clearly the trigger has been met with this $283 million deficit, and I think that we need to act on this rather than saying this is going to fix itself. It clearly is not going to fix itself.”
The numbers, released Friday by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, are more than double the $132 million shortfall which Walker’s administration projected in November. That’s in addition to a roughly $2.2 billion deficit the state is facing in the next budget biennium, based on current agency requests. The news came just prior to Walker’s high-profile appearance at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines.
The state has had deficits in the past, including under former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. “It has nothing to do with the last budget deficit coming under Jim Doyle,” state Democratic party chair Mike Tate responded, when asked about Democratic responses to that. “The last budget deficit came when virtually every other state in the country had a budget deficit, due to the massive cratering of the economy. This is the budget deficit that Scott Walker made.”
Walker for his part has already said he won’t be issuing a budget repair bill. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in a statement on Friday that “Wisconsin will finish the biennium with a balanced budget.” The state constitution requires a balanced budget, meaning the deficit will have to be eliminated by the end of June.