WSJ: GOP changes create $1.4 billion hole in Governor’s budget plan

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

“Republican lawmakers’ proposed changes to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ budget plan would create a $1.4 billion hole in the plan over the next two years, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal bureau.

“That roughly matches the amount by which Evers wants to increase state spending on K-12 schools, in another sign that GOP lawmakers will not embrace that proposal. Republicans already said last week that they won’t build from Evers’ overall spending blueprint.

“According to last week’s announcement, GOP lawmakers on the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee will scrap more than 130 provisions of Evers’ budget, including an expansion of Medicaid and tax increases on large manufacturers and some high earners. The announcement didn’t include the fiscal effect on Evers’ plan.

“Junking those proposals is what’s chiefly responsible for creating the $1.4 billion negative fiscal impact to the state’s general fund relative to Evers’ proposal, according to an estimate distributed to the Joint Finance Committee. Going forward, lawmakers will have to account for that figure with spending cuts, revenue increases or a mix of both.

“The changes also would reduce federal funds going into the state budget by nearly $1.1 billion in the next two years, according to the joint finance estimate. That’s mostly due to scrapping Evers’ plan to expand Medicaid eligibility to about 80,000 more Wisconsinites, a step that would secure additional federal funds under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.”

Legislative Republicans (including Assembly Speaker Vos at WASB Day at the Capitol) have consistently stated they are opposed to any tax increases at the state level and are opposed to Medicaid expansion based on fears that the federal government will not maintain its share of funding moving forward.

What is clear from a K-12 perspective, is that the refusal to consider these proposals that could add significant additional revenue for the state, almost certainly means schools will see significantly less than what the governor has proposed.  How much less remains to be seen.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is scheduled to begin voting on Thursday, May 9, at 11:00 a.m., beginning with taking up a motion to remove the items previously announced by the co-chairs.