An expert on Wisconsin taxes and budgeting sees good news in the budget. It “takes the monkey off the back of state government.” That’s what Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry says about the new biennial budget. “The best news about this budget probably is that for the first time in fifteen-plus years, we could go into a budget in 2013 without a structural imbalance, without a bunch of IOUs we have to pay off,” Berry said. That could reduce the “pain” of big service cuts in future budgets. “We might be able to have conversations about what do we want the future of higher education finance to look like in this state, how do we want the state-local government relationship to be restructured. Those kinds of things have really been on hold for a very long time.”

The biennial state budget that’s now in effect certainly has had its share of critics. “Of course it’s going to depend on where you’re sitting, whether you’re a school superintendent or a Medicaid recipient. Obviously this budget had a lot of pain and controversy,” Berry conceded. But he said the budget is balanced without a structural deficit amounting to, sometimes, billions of dollars. “That really would be huge, I think, for everybody. Because for the first time we could be optimistic that we weren’t going to go through another painful budget where we weren’t going to be scrutinized and cut. And that really is what went on in this budget. The only major program that grew – and it grew a lot – was Medicaid. Everything else pretty much took a hit.”

John Colbert, WIBA

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