Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Deficit double original guess

The state of Wisconsin will come up short for the 2007-09
biennial budget by $652.3 million, about twice what was projected in January,
according to new numbers released Wednesday.

Gov. Jim Doyle has already directed the Department of the
Administration to take some steps to close the gap, including mandating $111
million in cuts from state agencies and delaying payment on some short-term
loans, but the remaining $415.9 million will need to be addressed by the
governor and state legislators.

The shortfall is already sparking debate at the Capitol.


A letter from Bob Lang, director of the Legislative Fiscal
Bureau, to the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, made the original
$300-$400 million prediction for the shortfall. Wednesday he wrote that new
information from January and a February forecast ?point to further weakness in
general fund tax collections.?

?We had a sense this was coming because we knew the downturn
in the national economy would hurt Wisconsin?s economy,? said DOA spokesperson
Linda Barth.

Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said the shortfall would present
a challenge for the Joint Finance Committee, which he co-chairs, but it?s not
the first time the state has come up short. He said the state faced a shortfall
nearly twice this amount in 2002.

?We?re tightening our belts, which won?t be easy since we
did it quite a bit in the last budget,? Miller said.

Miller said in order to address the problem and make sure
that ?everyone is part of the solution,? the state should close corporate tax

?I think everything needs to be on the table,? Miller said.?However,
Rep. Kitty Rhoades, R-Hudson, co-chairs the committee with Miller and, like
other Republican leaders in the Legislature, staunchly opposes increasing

?The only solution is to stop spending more than we earn,?
Rhoades said in a statement.

Doyle, warning of tough choices ahead, called the shortfall
the consequence of a national economic downturn. His staff has previously said
he would not raise taxes to address the problem but waited on the final numbers
to float any specific ideas.

?I am committed to working closely with the Legislature to
solve this problem. We can get through this in a way that doesn?t raise taxes
and protects what is most vital to Wisconsin ? education, health care and
economic development,? Doyle said in a statement. ?But we must work together
and be prepared to all shoulder some of the burden.?

Barth said the cuts already in place for the DOA aim to
accomplish just that.

?Our goal is not to affect services,? Barth said. ?Our goal
is to find efficiencies.?

Barth added no cuts yet in place would affect the University
of Wisconsin System, but DOA Secretary Michael Morgan has yet to determine if
they could in the future.

Before the end of the budget?s biennium in 2009, the
governor must submit a budget repair bill with his proposals to be considered
by the Joint Committee on Finance.

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