After months of number-crunching and supposed planning, Gov. Scott McCallum announced Jan. 22 his proposal to mend the state’s fiscal quandary. He informed the public of a statewide deficit of $1.1 billion and introduced a series of cuts to eliminate the deficit.
McCallum spent the next two weeks promoting his plan in cities across the state and defending it to critics.
Criticism abounded from legislators as they began to review the 1,000-page proposal, and it became more and more unpopular. McCallum announced Tuesday he was pulling back his proposal for “technical changes,” according to spokesman Tim Roby.
These technical changes could mean a decimal place was incorrect, a word incorrectly used, or a miscalculation of data; however, due to the fact that McCallum postponed his State of the State address, some constituents fear the changes are more consequential.
The unpopularity of the proposal has led many to believe the changes could be major alterations to the proposal.
UW-Madison political science professor Don Kettl said he was shocked the governor postponed his address and led him to believe the changes were more than simple miscalculations.
No one is sure what changes are being made and although speculation exists as to the extent of the changes, Roby told Republicans in a memo the proposal was the same.
“The bill will be rejacketed for reintroduction in the Senate. Nothing has changed!!!” Roby said in his memo. “We assume there will be plenty of folks joining the governor in this battle in the next few days.”
McCallum’s office remains insistent that the necessary changes are merely technical, but legislators and citizens are concerned there may be problems at the proposal’s core.
The proposal was crafted independent of either the Assembly or the Senate; McCallum intended it to be a bipartisan effort. However, due to the unpopularity of the proposal, McCallum’s handiwork appears to have been unsuccessful.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala’s office expressed disdain for the secrecy of the proposal while McCallum was working on it. Although it is the right of the governor to craft budget proposals without input from the legislature, Chvala’s office suggested it might have been easier if the legislature was included or at least informed prior to its introduction.
Chvala is responsible for bringing the proposal to the floor of the Senate. So far, he has refused to do so. Without introduction in the Senate, the proposal is forced to the Assembly. Although the Assembly is Republican-controlled and it would seem McCallum would receive support, debate in the Assembly made it clear the proposal would not be introduced there either.
Without bringing the bill to the floor of either the Senate or the Assembly, it is stagnant, and McCallum can do nothing about it.
The only thing he can do is make revisions, which he may or may not be currently doing. Technical changes may be necessary, but legislators’ responses show the bill will go nowhere without significant changes.