Monday, July 31, 2006

Green's budget 'plan' is no plan at all

The devil is in the details, they always say.

But Rep. Mark Green's state budget "plan" is an exception to the rule.

In Green's case, the devil is in the lack of details.

A month ago, when the Journal Sentinel asked Green what he was going to do about the state budget, it became clear from his answers that he didn't have a clue. Even Steve Walters, who hangs on every word from the GOP and its candidates, couldn't make him look good.

Now, Green's done it again, announcing what he boldly called a "plan" to fix the state's budget problems.

Green's "plan" essentially says, "Let's just quit spending money. Oh, and to make sure we don't, let's pass a law making it illegal."

Great idea. That's how I propose we handle our family finances: "Let's quit spending so much money."

When my wife points out that gasoline, electricity, our health insurance, and most everything else we buy is going up, I will not bend.

And when she asks me what we're going to spend less on to make up for it, I'll tell her not to worry. We'll just make a rule that says we can't spend any more.

Now there's a plan if I ever heard one.

Green actually says he will not increase state spending by even a nickel, as I read it. And he already said today he won't cut the state payroll or contract out any work.

He also won't answer the question Scott Walker asked about whether he will continue to keep the state's commitment to pay two-thirds of public school costs -- or whether local property taxpayers are going to be stuck with higher bills.

Given all that, I was stunned to read a JS online headline that declared, Green details budget plans and actually said:
After releasing his plan in April, Green was criticized for not providing enough details on how he would handle the state's budget issues. Democrats were also critical of Green's tenure in Congress, in which the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said Green had a fiscally irresponsible record of voting for spending increases.

Today, he provided some more details, saying he would look for ways to reduce spending by better use of contracting dollars.

"There's lots of examples of contracting out where we can save the state tens and tens of millions of dollars, and that's where we'd start," Green said.
Today, he provided more details??? That he would make better use of contracting dollars? That's going to get the state out of its $1.5- to $2-billion hole and pay for the services it is committed to deliver.

I. Don't. Think. So.

I suppose it would be negative to point out that one reason Gov. Jim Doyle hasn't gotten us all the way out of the $3.2-billion deficit hole he inherited is that Republicans -- including Mark Green, who was right there voting for big fat budgets in the Assembly -- dug the hole so deep it took more than one term to do it.

Wisconsin's news media need to press Green -- and Doyle -- the way they did in 2002 for specific plans and ways to reduce the deficit, including some specific cuts.

Apparently, someone besides the Journal Sentinel is going to have to pick up the torch. The state's biggest newspaper thinks Green announced "details" today.

UPDATE: Carrie Lynch on budgeting in 40 words or less.

Seth Zlotocha says Green's so-called plan is still very much a secret.

UPDATE 3: Dave Diamond calls it more hilarity from the Green Team and wonders whether the Greenies are familiar with the concept of irony.

UPDATE 4: Gretchen Schuldt: Nobody likes taxes, but Green has a responsibility to tell us how he would balance the budget, not just that he would. It's called being responsible.

UPDATE 5: One Blog on Budget plans, talking points, and contradicting one's self.

ANOTHER COUNTRY HEARD FROM: Dicta says his/her daughter had a better financial plan for her lemonade stand than Green has on the budget.

THAT PESKY CARRIE LYNCH asks: When is a plan not a plan?


At 10:25 PM, Blogger Bob Thompson said...

The $1.5 to $2 billion deficit for the next budget is bullshit that the Repubs are trying to get the media to buy into now. For anyone who pays attention, that means zero revenue growth and maximum growth in state program spending. Zero growth. Now, in a Bush/Green economy, that's possible, but that's not happening now.

Ask John Gard if he just passed a budget through his Assembly that now has a $2 billion deficit. He might try to blame it on Doyle, but that wouldn't go far with the voters. I'd bet he would fight that number.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger goofticket said...

Green has managed his two rental properties in Green Bay.
Certainly not a qualification to manage a multi-billion dollar government.
Doyle came into office with a huge Thompson debt, which was not handled well by Mc Callum. Doyle has, since day one attempted to reduce the states costs by spreading out the reductions over the entire state.
Doyle has had his attempts met with obstructionist Gard's party loyalty. Whether gard just did this to embarass the Governor, or another reason, the fact that Gard has not worked for debt reduction is one large reason behind the state's debt.
Like every citizen, things are not cheaper for the state as they are not for us.
Inflation is going to be a bigger problem with the current budget, as it was based on early 2005 fuel prices. Didn't see that one coming, did they.
Green's position is that everything Doyle is wrong. That is a dangerous and foolish ideology. The costs of reservsing and doing a 180 with the state's budget has always cost more, gotten less done and created additional costs that rarely get paid.
Green's fiscal plan will look very similar to a simplistic Reaganoimics supply side trickle, that didn't work federally, and can't work at the state level.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Russ said...

Green's plan is very simple. Wisconsin government, at all levels, should not grow faster than the economy at large. If the private sector, which funds government, is healthy and generates increased wealth through productivity gains, then government wins by receiving more revenue. On the other hand, if government spending causes the private sector to stagnate, then government loses.
In a nutshell a strong healthy productive economy that is continually generating new wealth is the key. Government has a very important role in achieving that goal. They MUST restrain their spending to a level that the private sector can afford.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

Too bad that's not Green's "plan". It makes no allowance for increasing spending if revenue increases.

The AP reported that his "plan" includes: Capping state revenues at the previous year's level and using any surplus for deficit reduction or tax relief.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

I forgot to ask, Russ: How does that philosophy square with Green's record in Congress, where he has voted for Bush budgets that wiped out the biggest surplus in US history and plunged the country into its deepest debt?

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Russ said...


I suggest you take a look at US Treasury revenues for the last two years. They are up substantially due to huge increases in both personal and corporate taxes paid. Lower tax rates have resulted in increased revenue, a winning situation for the private sector and for government. If you haven't looked lately, the deficit is falling.
On the spending side you are correct, it's to high. Both the President and the Congress have an obligation to get control of spending. Obviously ending Congressional pork barrel spending is an absolute neccessity.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Russ said...


As you well know Green supports the taxpayer protection amendment which ties government spending growth to statewide economic growth, either inflation, or personnal income or both.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Xoff said...


Bush and Green took the US from the biggest surplus in history to the biggest deficit.

If Green supports the TPA as part of his plan, why doesn't he say so? Is it because it caused a civil war in his own party this year?

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Russ said...


Your right, TPA is a very controversial issue. If Wisconsin citizens understood it clearly it wouldn't be.
If total Wisconsin government / public spending increases faster than private sector wealth generation that results in a private sector pay cut. Surely you agree that's not good. That in fact is a transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector.


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