Why does Wisconsin need $3 billion?


We can stop calling the latest spending package ‘coronavirus relief.’ There is very little in this $2 trillion monstrosity that actually deals with the virus. Most of it is either payoffs, payouts, or pork. 

A lot of people are going to get $1,400 checks. They apparently are willing to take that cash and forget about the rest. I don’t blame them. I am going to cash my check. 

We will talk about the pork later, but it’s the payouts, or bailouts, to state and local governments that we need to talk about. 

Why does Wisconsin need $3 billion? And what is Gov. Evers going to spend it on?

Wisconsin has more than a billion-dollars in extra money this year. Our rainy day fund is as fat as ever, there will be a budget surplus, tax revenue is better than expected. And we just lived through a year of ‘Safer At Home.’ So again, why do we need the bailout?

A piece over at Reason Magazine asks the same question. 

States will get $195 billion, with each state receiving $500 million at a minimum, plus additional funds based on their numbers of unemployed workers. Local governments will get another $130 billion. Territories and tribal governments will receive another $25 billion.

This aid comes on top of the additional transit and education funding the legislation sends to states and localities. When that's included, roughly $510 billion—a quarter of the package—will go toward state and local aid. Past pandemic relief bills have already provided state and local governments with some $310 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

That incredible sum—which is in spitting distance of the Defense Department's budget—is gaining approval even though overall state revenues fell by only about .1 percent in 2020, according to a recent analysis by the Reason Foundation (which publishes this website). An analysis from J.P. Morgan similarly found that tax revenues were "virtually flat" for the 47 states that report their incomes on a monthly basis.

Again, some states are hurting. Florida lost a lot of tourists last year, and the piece points out that falling oil prices hurt Texas and Alaska. But 47 states across the country did better than expected last year. (Boy, that Trump economy was great). 

There are some cheques on how states can spend this money, it’s not supposed to pay for pension debt or other old debt, but once a dollar is into the state capitol it is going to be spent. 

Wisconsin specifically doesn’t have any real pressing needs. The roads can always be fixed, and UW Madison always wants a new building, but there’s no crushing backlog of bills or pension mountain here in Wisconsin. Our state, thanks to Gov. Walker and the legislative Republicans, is in pretty good shape. 

But here’s the thing about other people’s money. It always gets spent. There’s no benefit to not spending someone else’s dough. And ‘free’ money from Washington, D.C. is the most spendable. 

Gov. Evers isn’t going to cut taxes by $3 billion or set the money aside for a rainy day. He is going to spend, and spend fast. 

His budget looks to add over 300 people to the state government payroll. UW Madison always wants raises for its professors and administrators, and God knows there are all sorts of ‘programs’ that the governor wants to create. 

Spending one-time dollars on on-going expenses is the height of stupidity. Just look at Illinois. 

By the way, this spending plan is written for places like Illinois. And New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, and California that ruined their state’s economies by never taking responsibility. By never saying No. 

Today is the 10 year anniversary of Gov. Walker signing Act 10. That one law, alone, has saved Wisconsin nearly $14 billion over a decade. That one law turned a $3 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus for Wisconsin. 

It is more than fitting that 10 years after Republicans in Wisconsin had the courage to stand-up to the swamp and the public-beggars, this state is in solid financial shape. So solid that we don’t need a $3 billion bailout from the federal government gussied-up as coronavirus relief. 

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