Wisconsin’s budget def-icit will be worse than was expected last month, when dire predictions of a $400 million revenue shortfall surfaced in Madison. Red ink when the current budget expires in 2009 likely will reflect a $652 million deficit, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau now predicts.
As we’ve reported, the state lacks a sufficiently funded rainy day fund to provide a buffer. So now Gov. Jim Doyle has ordered $111 million be cut from department budgets. That’s on top of $200 million they already must cut under a state budget provision, according to The Associated Press, which also reports that Doyle’s administration will delay paying off principal on short-term debts to save another $125 million.
What a way to run a business — the business of state government.
Doyle is casting blame on the perceived national recession, although economists aren’t even sure we’re in the midst of one. But Wisconsin’s poor financial planning and lawmakers’ unwillingness to compromise lurks at the root of this problem.
At this juncture, it’s fair to suggest the state make its budget cuts permanent until Wisconsin regains strong financial health. And that can only come when the budget balances and the state has a strong rainy day fund. It’s time to bite the bullet.