Monday, December 5, 2011

Special Commentary by Robin Vos on Jobs...With Notes

Commentary -- Republicans’ focus remains getting state back to work
I Wrote This While I Was Packing To Attend My All Expenses Paid Trip To Scottsdale Paid By Corporations and Lobbyists Who Write My Legislation

When Republicans took over the majority in the Assembly and Senate 11 months ago, we inherited a financial catastrophe. When I say "catastrophe" I mean the first thing we did was give a massive tax break to corporations in order to make things worse. The former administration and Legislature used quick-fixes to balance the state's budget. Wisconsin taxpayers were then stuck with a pile of overdue bills and a $3.6 billion structural deficit. We don't like mention that Jim Doyle faced a structural deficit TWICE that size when he came in to office and managed to cut it down without performing a "Dexter" on schools, health care and transportation.

The problems just didn't surface overnight. This fiscal mess came from eight years of poor financial planning by the Doyle administration. So we rearranged our payments and told the people it was because Doyle was so bad - only our financial structuring actually makes things worse. Since no one will realize that for years...we just leave that part out.  
There were raids on the transportation fund as well as an illegal raid of $200 million from the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund. So we raided the General and Environmental funds to the tune of $400 million. 
Former Gov. Jim Doyle used one-time federal stimulus money to plug any holes in the budget. And we're still taking credit for the jobs that money created. He also never paid off a bill that was racking up interest of more than $4,500 a day: We owed the State of Minnesota $59.7 million plus to fulfill a tax reciprocity agreement. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau also found that Gov. Doyle's office transferred nearly $50 million from accounts that had no money. It was time to start paying our bills and reign in the out-of-control and unsustainable government spending without raising taxes. And our bill did nothing to change that at all - we didn't fix it. We bring it up because it sounds like we did something...but we didn't.
By law, state legislators and the governor are obligated to balance the state's checkbook despite the unpaid bills from the prior administration. However, like the family checkbook, the state's doesn't include the future bills that are expected to come in. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau tracks that for the state by using GAAP accounting or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. I learned this trick from Paul Ryan...here come all the numbers that sound good and are inserted to confuse you.
For the past two decades, each Legislature has had at least a billion dollars in future liabilities and, unfortunately, the GAAP deficit grew again this year. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau puts the deficit at $2.94 billion for 2009-10 (fiscal year). The Department of Administration's budget brief papers estimate it to be $2.965 billion for 2010-11 and $2.99 billion for 2011-12. So what I do here is start with a couple of facts that are true...
What complicated matters this budget cycle was the pile of unpaid bills and the $3.6 billion deficit. Now I add a fact, but leave out that the deficit had been reduced by Democrats. My own little sin of omission...
Without Doyle's leftover bills, the GOP Legislature could have pared the GAAP deficit by at least 10 percent. Now I add an irrelevant possibility that would have never happened, but sounds really bad. See I used the "could" not "would." Like I "could" give those college kids back their deposit but they left a crumb in the oven.
In order to start to get our fiscal house in order, the state had to first pay off those old bills. We paid the State of Minnesota what we owed them plus interest. Not because we are responsible, but because they made us when we started to shuffle around on the payment date. We repaid the $200 million to the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund. Because a judge made us and then we showed him by writing legislation to make it harder for people to sue when they are injured. Take that fuckers. When additional revenue surfaced late in the budgetary cycle, we were responsible and paid off our bills and paid down our debt. We did not go on a spending spree. We just cut over a billion to schools and are kicking nearly 100,000 people off of Badgercare - which we "could" have avoided and instead we claim we paid down a deficit that Democrats had already reduced.
What we did is set sound priorities for our state and made sure that essential state services were kept intact. Like the new public/private hybrid Wisconsin Department of Commerce and all their fancy new iPads. We budgeted $1.2 billion more into medical assistance programs and developed a way to sustain the programs without impacting the people who need them the most. Even though the overall budget actually cut $444 mililon...see how I did that?! We also gave local governments and school districts a way to balance their own budgets. By preventing local governments from raising revenue and forcing school districts to raise the money they lost with tax increases - so they look like the bad guys - not us. In essence, our governor and the Republicans in both chambers laid the foundation for future balanced budgets throughout the state. When I use the word "essence" I am actually just making crap up that sounds nice but is not based in fact.
NOTE: I have not used the word "JOBS" once in an article that is supposed to be about our focus on creating jobs. (I am so awesome at this shit, I just want you to know that.)
We will continue to do what our state Constitution requires us to do: on an annual basis, our incoming revenues must take care of the state's expenses and that the state's checkbook must maintain at least a balance of $65 million. Which is the exact amount more the UW system will lose, isn't that weird?  After passing a very fiscally sound spending plan that erased that $3.6 billion deficit, the LFB calculated that the state may have a surplus at the end of the two-year budget cycle. This will help us pay off more of the future liabilities so we can become more financially sound. Lolz. Did you see how I used the word "may?" Like Rojo Popcorn "may" pop out my ass? 


Actually because of the magic tricks built in to our refinancing structure we never discuss, we will delay debt service payments (at a higher interest rate) until 2013 making it LOOK like a surplus but will actually make our debt to revenue ration WORSE. (OMG we are so awesome at this shit!)
The incoming revenues to the state will definitely fluctuate and we'll make the necessary adjustments. Which means we have no fucking idea. However, there's one thing that won't change and that's our focus on getting Wisconsin back to work. Are you laughing? I am. After two special legislative sessions on jobs, state lawmakers have provided the ground work for a better economy and the creation of more private sector jobs. We are the worst job creators in the country and guess what? That blip of jobs over the summer? Turns out those numbers were bogus - and we knew it! Getting people back to work and improving the state's economy are our top priorities. They aren't. It's a meaningless sentence. Sorta like our "Special Session on Jobs."  Economic recoveries don't happen overnight, but it seems every day another company is announcing plans to expand and to hire new workers. That were created by the previous administration. It is evident that our budgetary decisions are paying off and our reforms are working. I am so lying - jobs are in the shitter, the people hate us and our drunken power grab is coming to an end.
While it will take even more time to reverse the poor financial decisions from eight years, I believe in 11 months we've made amazing headway. I also believe I have an amazing head of hair. We can be proud of what we've accomplished in a short time and the people of Wisconsin will be better off because of the fiscal decisions that we made this year and the ones we'll make in the year to come. Everyone except workers, seniors, minorities, pretty much all women, kids, wildlife, air and the water.
I used the word JOBS twice in this article about jobs...which was two more times than I wanted because the Walker administration is totally sucking at it. We will keep talking about other stuff - hoping that you don't notice. Love and kisses from Arizona suckers!
State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee.