The following article featuring Chris Reader originally ran in The Center Square on February 14, 2023.
Gov. Tony Evers isn’t the only one asking for more money in the new state budget. Agencies throughout state government, including the University of Wisconsin System, are asking for billions in new spending.
The Institute for Reforming Government tracked agency requests as they came in last year. In all, the agencies that Gov. Evers controls, and the ones he doesn’t such as the Department of Public Instruction and the University of Wisconsin, are asking for $8.2 billion more than they received last year.
“At a time when families are holding or cutting their own family budgets to deal with inflation, the state is apparently unwilling to do so themselves – asking for almost 10% higher spending, mostly for, it seems, higher wages and benefits, while leaving taxpayers with a bigger bill going forward,” IRG Executive Vice President Chris Reader told The Center Square. “There’s no real effort to control state spending, reduce the employee count, or be responsive to what taxpayers are seeing around the state.”
The $8.2 billion in new spending requests are so large that Reader said the state would blow throw every dollar of Wisconsin’s record $7.1 billion surplus, plus another billion-dollars.
“Consider that Gov. Walker started with a $3.6 billion deficit from the previous administration. He and Republican lawmakers fixed it, and through items like cutting taxes and Act 10 were able to turn around the trajectory of the state finances. It worked, and helped push our surplus to the record size that it is,” Reader explained. “Twelve years later, it’s now time for the next big course correction on how the state spends and taxes. The state shouldn’t tax more than is budgeted to spend, and it shouldn’t continue to spend more than most other states. Let’s eliminate or flatten the income tax and actually have a discussion on how to reduce spending in the state – not continue down the path of higher spending.”
“These agencies certainly don’t deserve more money,” Reader said. “What is needed is strong oversight from lawmakers. We need to scrutinize how money is being spent so the errors can be corrected. If money is needed to fix a broken system, we can have that discussion. But simply throwing more money into these failed agencies is not leadership.”