“I will present a balanced budget – one that is balanced the old-fashioned way, with real numbers, not with tricks or gimmicks,” Doyle said. “No inflated revenue estimates – and no tax increase.” “I have said time and again that we are not in this fiscal mess because taxes are too low, or because the taxpayers have not done their fair share. I mean it,” Doyle said. “I will not raise taxes.”
We know he didn’t keep his promise on the taxes. Property taxes are climbing at an alarming rate and he more than doubled the cigarette tax. When you take into account that we already are the 15th highest taxed state in the nation per capita.
On November 20th of 2008, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle settled into his seat at a packed Capitol press conference he called to deliver the bad news. Due to the slumping economy, Governor Doyle told the press, Wisconsin faced a $5.4 billion shortfall over the next two fiscal years. In outlining his plan to fix the imbalance, Governor Doyle forcefully stated:
“We have to balance the budget. We are not the federal government. When we are in difficult financial circumstances, we can’t just say, ‘well, that’s alright, let’s just spend more money here, or let’s spend more money there.’ We don’t have that option.”
Yet an analysis of state budgeting practices over the past decade shows something much different. In setting the budget for the past several biennia, governors and legislators of both parties have employed several strategies that have allowed the state to spend more money than it takes in. When faced with balancing the budget or spending more taxpayer money, the Governor and Legislature virtually always side with spending as much as possible, leaving future government officials to address any shortfalls.
Wisconsin’s general fund revenues are derived from several sources. The lion’s share of general fund revenues comes from taxes. The major tax sources are individual income taxes (52% of state general fund tax collections in fiscal year 2008), sales taxes (about 34%), and corporate income taxes (about 6%). Various other taxes such as cigarette taxes, other excise taxes (e.g., alcohol taxes), public utility taxes and insurance company taxes also contribute to tax revenues.
Now if you spend more than you take in can you vote and tell your boss that you voted yourself a pay raise because you over spent on non-essentials. Of course not. Essentials to the government are infrastructure,schools,police,fire,etc. Not lobby groups and not discretionary spending such as tobacco control. Tobacco Prevention and Control Program funding has been restored to its current level of $15.25 million per year. Yes
it is only $15.25 million. But if every one of these non-essential programs was eliminated would there even be a deficit?
It is also not time to implement draconian laws that are known to hurt businesses. In rural communities taverns collectively are one of the largest employers in the state. Make no mistake smoking bans hurt business. This has been proven time and time again. That is why states such as Nevada, Ohio and Minnesota have bills pending exempting bars. Remember if you hurt a business you hurt the tax base. It is getting to the point there is no way to tax his way out. So we shall see on Monday if Comrade Doyle caves in to the lobby groups and Big Pharma, the groups he is beholding to. Or does what is good for the state.