Monday, June 26, 2006

Mark Green exposed as clueless on budget

Someone has finally asked Mark Green, who says he's basing his campaign for governor on his pledges to "cut taxes" and "restore fiscal discipline" to state government, for some specifics.

You probably won't be shocked to learn that he doesn't have any specific ideas or plans. Behind Mark Green's rhetoric is ... more rhetoric.

He doesn't have a clue about how to manage the state budget.

That became apparent in today's Journal Sentinel article by Steve Walters, a reporter who's not exactly tough on Republicans and is usually more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Walters reports:

Mark Green does not have a definite plan to fix the state's budget crisis so much as he has goals: Spend and borrow less than Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and - eventually -find enough money to cut taxes.

A review of what the Republican candidate for governor announced in mid-April, and interviews with him and key advisers, found more questions than details.

Green said the vagueness of his budget-balancing plan is not a problem, however.

"We just tried to lay out broad (budget) outlines at this point," said the four-term member of the U.S. House from Green Bay. "It's so early in the process."
Early in the process? Green announced his candidacy in May 2005, and pledged then to cut taxes and "fix the state's fiscal mess."

“We’ve got a long campaign ahead of us where we’ll have a chance to elaborate on some of the ideas I’ve mentioned today and offer many more," he said then.

But, more than a year later, he still has no plan to offer.

The Journal Sentinel's review found that Green:

• Wants a constitutional amendment to limit state and local government spending - an idea so complicated and controversial the Republican-controlled Legislature couldn't pass it this year. Green doesn't have his own constitutional amendment. Such a measure could not become law until 2009, at the earliest.

• Would control property taxes by limiting the increase in December 2007 tax levies of local governments to inflation plus new construction in their communities.

Won't say whether his first budget would cut the number of state jobs, as Doyle has promised to do.

Doesn't know how he would fix the $88 million deficit in the transportation fund in the current budget year, which ends Friday. And Green offers no solutions to make up any shortfall in transportation spending in the next two-year budget.

• Promises to honor the tax-cut commitments already made by Republican legislators and Doyle, although doing so could leave him with only about $290 million left for the growing costs of public schools and health care - two programs on track to cost about $300 million more in what would be Green's first full year in office...

Green also vowed to reallocate current state spending, although he offers no details other than to say he would cancel technology contracts that waste money.

As governor, Green said, he would make aid to public schools and health care "our highest budget priorities."

But Green said that for now he can't guarantee that his first annual budget will increase the $5.1 billion current payment to public schools.

He said he would "love" to find the additional $165 million needed in the first year of the next two-year budget for state government to continue paying two-thirds of public school costs.
But, once again, he has no clue how he'd do that. In the last budget, you may recall, Republican legislators short-changed public school funding by hundreds of millions of dollars, which Gov. Jim Doyle was able to restore by creative use of his veto. You can bet that with Mark Green as governor, public schools will suffer.

In the 2002 campaign, the main issue was the huge deficit hole that Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum had created, and how to get out of it.

Candidates were pressed by the news media to come up with detailed, specific plans for how they would deal with the deficit. I remember very well a Wisconsin Public Television debate with Jim Doyle, Kathleen Falk and Tom Barrett where the entire show was devoted to discussing ideas on how to reduce the deficit, believed to be $2.8-billion. The Journal Sentinel also asked candidates to provide written, specific plans to cut the deficit.

It turned out after the election that the deficit was even bigger, on the order of $3.2-billion. Doyle had pledged to reduce the deficit without raising taxes, and he's kept that promise.

Doyle's last budget, even after he rescued the public schools from devastating Republican cuts, included a property tax freeze and $300-million in tax cuts.

When voters compare the candidates this fall, they'll find a choice between Jim Doyle, who has made the tough choices to deliver on the promises he made in 2002 to reduce the deficit and hold the line on taxes, and Mark Green, who talks in vague generalities about cutting spending at the same time he votes in Congress for trillion-dollar deficits.

Slogans will only get Green so far. If he wants to be taken seriously, he needs to fill in the blanks. His spending and budget plan is nothing but blanks so far.

UPDATE: Seth Zlotocha: Green weak on signature issue.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger vita said...

Well...expect a whole new round of Doyle bashing to happen soon. The folks who back Green will have to diffuse yet another story showing the inadequacies of the Green candidacy. When in doubt attack, attack, attack. For just once, can the Green supporters acknowledge just how weak this guy is? I personally have reservations about Doyle but the fact remains, he took over after 13 plus years of Republican leadership only to have to balance a giant budgetary mess. You may not appreciate the manner in which he is attempting to solve this BUT then offer up some solutions. Saying nothing (which is what Green has been saying) is not a solution.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

Perhaps Green doesn't want to use bait-and-switch tactics, which are the specialty of the sitting Governor, eh?

Like giving WEAC their fix by stealing a few hundred million from the Highway Trust...

At 1:48 PM, Blogger vita said...

Oh yeah that’s right. Just how are we going to make it in the coming years if we don't spend $5.4 billion to reconstruct a freeway system ONLY to save a few minutes in commute time? Speaking of transportation, I surely hope we hear from all the fiscal conservatives who praised Mayor Barrett for vetoing the connector because "there was no identifiable funding source", when the transportation secretary calls for the entire rebuilding of the system including adding unneeded lanes when WE HAVE YET TO IDENTIFY A FUNDING SOURCE! If my calcs are correct, we are going to have to raise taxes to pay for it… Feel free to call Busalachi now and express your displeasure with his recommendations.

At 6:18 AM, Blogger RD said...

The day Mark Green, a crony of Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay, gets elected Governor is the day I move out of the state.

All that guy preaches is hate and he and his White Bread fan club have no care or feeling about people of color: black, native americans or american asians. Look at his web site: White through and through.


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