There’s bipartisan criticism of Walker administration plans to delay $108 million in state debt payments to help balance the current budget.
State Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), who’s served in the past on the budget writing Joint Finance Committee, said Tuesday that what Governor Scott Walker wants to do isn’t that much different from what former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle did.
“It’s similar. And if I was against those when a Democrat did it, I’m also against it when a Republican does it,” Cowles said.
The delay means the state will pay only the interest on certain obligations that are scheduled in May, along with higher payments in the future, including an extra $19 million in the next state budget. A Walker administration spokesman said the delayed payment is allowed under the terms of the state’s borrowing agreement.
State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison), who serves on the budget writing Joint Finance Committee, called the decision irresponsible.
“What I think we need is a budget repair bill, first of all. We’ve certainly met the threshold” said Taylor. “Secondly, let’s solve these issues. Lets find a way of dealing with these things so we’re not pushing them off and just creating more of a burden that goes into the next biennium.”
“If they had budgeted more cautiously, which I had advocated for last March and April, we probably could have avoided this,” Cowles said. “They could avoid this right now. They could take money from the rainy day fund and avoid the interest costs. But I guess for whatever reason they don’t want to do that. They’d rather pay more in interest costs.”