State budget was completed on time. So what?

    The state budget was completed on time. That’s not a good thing.

    The recently-concluded state budget process was a secretive, trust-eroding endeavor. The end result of the secret, backroom dealing was even worse than the process by which it was created.

    Let’s do the math:

    • $3.63 billion in increased spending.
    • $2.05 billion in increased taxes, fees, enhanced collections.
    • $3.58 billion of borrowing.
    • $1.50 billion in allowable local property tax hikes.
    • $2.05 billion of a structural deficit.

    = $12.81 billion worth of bad. 

    Next up? Taxpayers across Wisconsin should brace themselves for massive property tax hikes over the next two years as districts adjust to Madison’s skewed priorities and the removal of the 3.8 cap on teacher compensation.

    The budget was done on time. But, at what cost?

    The legislature violated the public trust. The Governor violated the Constitution. Spending, taxes and borrowing spiked. We’re still operating under a structural deficit, and now property taxes are set to skyrocket.

    The budget was done on time.

    Quite frankly, the MacIver Institute would have preferred, and Wisconsin would have been better served by, a more deliberative, open and frugal process – even if it meant a missed deadline or two. The budget jacks up state spending, raises taxes by more than $2 billion, borrows billions more, leaves us in a $2 billion dollar hole and sets the stage for the return of massive property tax hikes.

    The legislature passed the buck onto local government, including school districts. As those units of government formulate their budgets, pay attention. You can count on the fact that we will.

    Brett Healy is president of The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a free market think tank in Waukesha County.

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