My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I continue to be frustrated by the lack of leadership in Madison. We all KNOW there is, and will be, a huge budget shortfall, but nobody is actually doing anything about it. The result will be a big budget repair bill – probably in January – where they are making huge, painful, cuts. Those huge, painful cuts will be necessary because they are failing to make small, less painful, cuts today. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to make large cuts in government, but the crying and wailing you will hear in a few months is completely avoidable.
Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets as state tax collections decline with the state’s economy. Already, various interest groups are making the case for why their piece of the pie should be excluded from budget cuts and the lobbyists are out in full force. The next several months are going to require real leadership.
For example, the state of Wisconsin employs about 65,000 employees, including employees of the UW System, earning a median income of about $52,000. If Wisconsin implemented a 10% pay reduction for all state employees, it would save the taxpayers roughly $28 million per month. Private employers have been forced to implement such cuts and worse. In this case, it would be a 10% cut in pay and everyone keeps their jobs. Many private-sector employees, and taxpayers, fared much, much worse.
If Governor Evers had implemented a universal 10% cut in March, when he implemented his lockdown order, the state would have already saved over $112 million – almost half of what he is asking state agencies for not. That is $112 million that that will still have to be cut before the fiscal year is over, but because Governor Evers has failed to act, it will hurt a lot more.
Every day that state leaders sit around waiting for to make decisions, those decisions will be dictated to them by events. Wisconsin needs leadership. Now.