Gov. Jim Doyle met with mayors from around the state in a private meeting in his office Wednesday afternoon to brief them on the state’s current budget situation.
With the state already facing a record $5.9 billion budget deficit, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang said in a previous interview with The Badger Herald that the budget deficit is likely to increase by at least hundreds of millions of dollars, although he had no specific figures available.
Doyle spokesperson Carla Vigue would not comment on the topics discussed at Wednesday’s meeting, calling the event “private.” She did say, however, the mayors in attendance represented many “geographically diverse” regions of the state.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz was among those who attended the meeting.
Cieslewicz spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the governor did not give the mayors any specific numbers regarding the increased shortfall but made it clear to the mayors in attendance that the state’s budget situation has gotten “significantly worse” over the past few months.
“We expect to see a cut in our state aid payments… It was pretty clear that things have gotten worse and some of that pain will have to be shared by the cities,” Strauch-Nelson said.
Strauch-Nelson said she expects to see the city’s shared revenue decrease the most, a topic the governor had previously discussed with Cieslewicz, although she had no specific information.
As a result of speculation surrounding the increased budget shortfall, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance decided Tuesday to cancel the meeting scheduled for this afternoon until final figures could be released, allowing the budget decisions to be more accurate.
Republican committee members pushed for the move, although Democratic members agreed.
Committee member Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine, said the state is facing new budget crises as the result of the governor’s policies.
“We have seen more businesses close than open,” Vos said of Doyle’s six years in office. “Unfortunately, his answer is to raise taxes on businesses.”
Vos added that the governor’s recent budget proposal is likely to have a similar effect on the state’s financial situation over the next few years.
The governor and his budget director, David Schmiedicke, are scheduled to announce specific figures and information about the shortfall tomorrow afternoon.