A Democratic member of the Legislature’s budget committee is criticizing a decision by Governor Scott Walker’s administration to delay a $101 million debt payment.
Instead of making the payment this month on a short-term line of credit, the administration opted to restructure the debt and pay it off over the next several years. The move is one that has been used by both Republican and Democratic administrations in the past, in order to divert more money into the state’s general fund.
An earlier memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau initially indicated a $50 million delayed payment would cost the state about $1.1 million in interest. A revised cost estimate for the interest on a higher delayed payment amount was not yet available.
State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) called the move irresponsible budgeting, and a sign that Republicans passed out tax cuts in the last budget that the state couldn’t afford. “Our last budget included $380 million worth of tax cuts, and we didn’t have the money,” he said.
Hintz said it shows majority Republicans should have been more responsible when they passed the budget. “When I see actions like this, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s not a good sign either for a state that has a governor talking about our fiscal house being in order…it’s a joke.”
Department of Administration spokeswoman Laurel Patrick defended the decision to delay the payments, calling it a “prudent financial management tool” that allows the state to take advantage of historically low interest rates.