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New State Budget Will Get Wisconsin Back on Track

Spending plan closes deficit, reduces taxes and will spur businesses to create more jobs here.

Once facing $3.6 billion in red ink, Wisconsin’s finances are now back in the black.

The state Senate recently passed - and Gov. Scott Walker into law on Sunday - a two-year budget that cuts taxes, freezes property taxes and put the state back in the black for the first time in more than 10 years.

In six months, we’ve managed to clean up the mess that was made of our finances over the last eight years.This budget delivers real reform, protects taxpayers during these tough economic times and provides a stable environment to grow jobs.

We were able to do more with less, just like families throughout Wisconsin are doing in this tough economy. Our budget plan means more jobs, more money in the classroom, more teachers, more accountability, more reform, more local control.

To put this budget in perspective, it’s important to look at the last state budget passed by the Democrats.Their budget increased spending $3.6 billion, raised taxes $4.7 billion, including a $1.2 billion hike property taxes. Where did it leave us? When we started the two-year budget plan, we first had to fill a $3.6 billion hole.

I’m happy to report we did it and without raising your taxes.In fact, this budget cuts taxes $24 million, creates the first permanent property tax freeze and cuts credit card spending by nearly $2 billion. Taxpayers scored another victory in the budget with the elimination of Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs). However well intentioned they were, the RTAs were unelected, unaccountable boards yet could raise taxes.

We had to make tough, but necessary cuts. However, the budget protects and funds important programs like SeniorCare, Family Care, recycling and provided more money for school kids. We dug ourselves out of a $3.6 billion deficit left by former Gov. Jim Doyle and the Democrats, protected our most vulnerable, and did it without raising taxes - just like we promised.

Like most families, the Wauwatosa School District is using the tools passed in Wisconsin Act 10, the budget repair bill, to have employees contribute more to their health care and pensions.

With those savings, they are launching a new second language program,opening a Montessori school and exploring hybrid classes which combine online learning with classroom instruction. They are doing all of that without raising taxes. In fact, some residents will see their bill go down. The Wauwatosa superintendent told Wauwatosa Now: “All of these things would not be possible, if we weren’t able to get those types of concessions.”

Lower taxes and a stable economy send a strong message that Wisconsin is open for business again. By contrast, Democratic lawmakers in Illinois passed massive tax hikes and are still facing an $8 billion deficit. Now, not surprisingly, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is supporting legislation to scale back collective bargaining powers of state unions.

Wisconsin is headed in a smarter direction and the rest of the nation is paying attention. We’ve already seen some companies move from Illinois to Wisconsin. I expect that trend to continue.

Wisconsin is open for business and this budget proves it.

State Sen. Alberta Darling represents the 8th District, which includes Menomonee Falls, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point and Bayside.

Tom June 29, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Thank You Senator Darling. You are truly helping middle class taxpayers like myself. You will have no problem winning your recall election!
Lyle Ruble June 29, 2011 at 11:08 PM
WFBMike...Tell us how you really feel. You certainly personify the nickname White Fish Bay has earned; "White Folks Bay"!
Lyle Ruble June 29, 2011 at 11:17 PM
@Joe Peterlin...It pleases me to no end that you are so happy and supportive of Senator Darling. Of course, you know I don't agree with you. She doesn't represent the middle class. In fact she doesn't even know what middle class is. If you are so proud of her accomplishments; let me ask you a simple question: Over the biennium the change in government employees withholding for healthcare and pension was reported to save the state $300 million; the state is now projecting a $300 million surplus. My understanding of a balanced budget is just that; revenues equal expenditures. Since we are now projecting a surplus it would seem that the state employees increased contributions were not needed to balance the budget. All the chaos and pain for what; a surplus?
Jay Sykes June 30, 2011 at 12:10 AM
@Lyle... A fine review of the Income Statement. You should review the balance sheet too. While I don't have a copy of the Financial Statements on my desk, I do recall that the State owes the Patient Compensation fund $202 Million Dollars and we owe the State of Minnesota 59 Million Dollars for college tuition fees. So, off the top off my head using the `projected` surplus number(known as a 'wild guess'), leaves us a net surplus of $39 million. And while it is funded differently, the UI fund is short to the tune of 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS, and running in deficit since February 2009;Wisconsin must repay the loan from the federal government. For just the unfunded Liabilities that I recall off the top of my head, it looks to me like a 1.1 Billion Dollar shortfall.
Lyle Ruble June 30, 2011 at 12:54 AM
@Jay Sykes...If it is as you say, then we don't have a balanced budget and it shouldn't be advertized as such.
Sammy June 30, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Thank You all Republicans for taking responsibility for fixing the Mess you inherited from Doyle and the Democrats. And thanks Mr obama for pillaging America so badly , that America has now woken up to the Parasites and Fraud of our Nation.
Lyle Ruble June 30, 2011 at 03:10 AM
@Joe Peterlin...All though I don't know you personally, I would estimate that you are solidly middle class. However, I think you and Senator Darling share similar perspectives and values as fiscal conservatives. The difference between you and the Senator is you live a middle class lifestyle while she lives a privileged lifestyle. Her contemporaries are the country club set and she rubs elbows with the wealthiest of Wisconsin. As far as I am concerned this doesn't disqualify her as a representative, but her actions do. She believes in "trickle down economics" and what's good for the wealthiest is good for us. This is an economic view that has been thoroughly discredited. She is betting the "come"; the more money in the wealthiest pockets, the more money that is invested in jobs. I fully understand the concept of delay of gratification; a very dominate value of protestantism. However, it doesn't necessarily apply when dealing with meeting primary needs. Look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Survival needs far out weigh the higher order needs. It is one thing to save for a rainy day if you have your basic needs met; it's quite another if they aren't met. I maintain that not everyone's basic needs are being met. To build up a surplus while there is so much need doesn't make sense and is immoral at best.
JavaJava June 30, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Cutting through Alberta’s mumbo jumbo, the Republican budget broke countless promises by increasing spending by over $1 billion compared to the last budget, raising taxes and fees by over $180 million, and raiding $411 million from segregated funds. Not only did they increase spending and raise taxes, but they did it on the backs of Wisconsin workers, middle-class families, children and seniors. They used this budget as an opportunity to cut billions in funding for neighborhood schools, life-saving health care programs, and crucial public transit in order to finance massive corporate giveaways and buy off special interests. With this budget, Republicans have mortgaged our children’s future by cutting $1.6 billion in education funding in order to give away $2.3 billion in corporate tax breaks and loopholes. Great job, Alberta! If only Joint Finance was truly joint… This is a Republican railroad job. Ooops, they don’t like railroads… I used to support Alberta. That was before she signed on to the national Republican strategy to unilaterally screw the middle class – and, of course, kill unions, hopefully kill the funding for Democratic candidates, make it more difficult for people to vote (especially those who would support Democratic candidates), and pass concealed carry to maybe really kill a whole mess of folks. You’ve come a long way, baby!
taxpayer June 30, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Why is Patch running an Alberta Darling opinion piece when she very rarely, if ever, comments in one of your stories? I can't count the times she refuses to comment by not returning calls. Is this a news source or Darling's press shop?
andrea June 30, 2011 at 02:15 PM
I consider myself fiscally moderate and socially liberal. Alberta D loses my vote for her super socially conservative agenda.
Adam White June 30, 2011 at 02:25 PM
It's an opinion piece and well written. Alberta has done a great job fighting for Wisconsin and I too believe she will do great in the election!
Joe Peterlin June 30, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Lyle: I am familiar with the Hierarchy of Needs theory. The question is (and I don't think that we are far apart here); to what degree is it the governments' role to provide those basic needs and where do other social organizations, personal responsibility and innovation begin to enter the equation? This line of equilibrium is far from static, but changes according to the reality of economic conditions. Both the federal and many state governments have painted themselves into quite a small, fiscal corner. The feds could continue to print more money. attempt to further devalue the dollar and inflate our way out in the short-term, but eventually the price of that route will be higher interest rates which will suppress economic activity and in turn, employment. This tight corner is severely limiting to the prospects for economic growth in the coming years. The bottom line question here is; do we raise taxes on the upper middle class and wealthy at this particular juncture and risk causing these classes to rein in their spending and further exacerbate already slow, growth? I maintain that the timing of any major tax policy move, on the federal level, at this time, could be disastrous. As far as the state level, similar conditions exist and I reiterate my opinion above. What we are witnessing nationally, is the beginning of a long-term trend of, dare I use the word...austerity? Other social organizations, individual responsibility and innovation will need to step up.
Joe Peterlin June 30, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Lyle: I am familiar with the Hierarchy of Needs theory. The question is (and I don't think that we are far apart here); to what degree is it the governments' role to provide those basic needs and where do other social organizations, personal responsibility and innovation begin to enter the equation? This line of equilibrium is far from static, but changes according to the reality of economic conditions. Both the federal and many state governments have painted themselves into quite a small, fiscal corner. The feds could continue to print more money. attempt to further devalue the dollar and inflate our way out in the short-term, but eventually the price of that route will be higher interest rates which will suppress economic activity and in turn, employment. This tight corner is severely limiting to the prospects for economic growth in the coming years. The bottom line question here is; do we raise taxes on the upper middle class and wealthy at this particular juncture and risk causing these classes to rein in their spending and further exacerbate already slow, growth? I maintain that the timing of any major tax policy move, on the federal level, at this time, could be disastrous. As far as the state level, similar conditions exist and I reiterate my opinion above. What we are witnessing nationally, is the beginning of a long-term trend of, dare I use the word...austerity? Other social organizations, individual responsibility and innovation will need to step up.
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:11 PM
River Hills' Darling and her rich friends don't pay taxes. Only the middle class suckers like us do.
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Yes, thanks for unemployment that hasn't changed at all since January 2011. And thanks for skyrocketing unemployment claims (2,559 in April 2011 to 7,956 in May 2011)! Meanwhile, Illinois' unemployment rate has dropped 1.6 percent in the last year. Hmm, maybe giving tax cuts to billionaires doesn't create jobs afterall... http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.wi.htm
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Propaganda's not cool, bro.
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:35 PM
The problem with republicans is that eventually they run out of poor and middle class people to exploit.
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Whichever dittohead the Koch brothers hired to write this (as well as Sensenbrenner's steaming pile of words) needs to be fired. It's just sad what $1 million buys these days.
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Well said!
Nate June 30, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Cool story, bro.
Joe Peterlin June 30, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I'm a Shorewood resident and not paid by anyone but myself. You are delusionary to believe otherwise. What planet do you originate from? Do they allow opinions there?
Sammy June 30, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Kick all Democrats and Unions out of the Country, and all of America's Problems will go away. Us republicans are really getting tired of fixing all of these Socialist failures.
Sammy June 30, 2011 at 10:41 PM
The only reason taxpayers know about the outragous public employee's pay is because obama and the democrats stole so much money and wealth from America that it destroyed the Job Market. By the way look on Wisc stimulous fund awards. All the Stimulous funds meant for everyone in the State, ONLY went to teachers and public employees. That's besides the 3.6 billion in money that the dems. and doyle raided from our state. I think Walker needs to make a new tax code for public workers.
andrea June 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Mussolini (the father of fascism) often busted unions and strikes through terror and violence using his black shirt paramilitary/gang forces to stop strikes because it hurt economic production and the governments ability to collect tax revenue from it.
Lyle Ruble June 30, 2011 at 11:02 PM
@Joe Peterlin...Joe, you and I are in agreement that we are going through a major transitional period in our nation's history. Often when there is transition, society becomes very unstable. I understand there will many "starts and stops" as we try to find our way to "what we will be"; but what I find dangerous is that the conservatives are pushing too fast and too far. People need time to adapt. I have a theory of change: People do not change until their resistance to change is overcome by the discomfort they are experiencing for staying in place is greater than the proposed discomfort of making a change is less. However, what I object to is when people purposely try to raise anxiety levels to make change or to resist change. Politicians use this continuously to motivate or refute; thus building emotion to make change or resist change. What we are faced with now is a crisis in values orientation; whether to follow and reinforce utilitarian values (usually found primarily in business) or to follow greater humanistic values.
Beth Gregg July 01, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Sammy, we'd all like to see some hard facts to back up those claims of yours please. This "piece" from Alberta is missing the one crucial fact that we all need to see--where are the jobs? You can talk about all this "reform" Senator Darling, but the bottom line is that there is NO new job creation going on in Wisconsin. The policy that you advocate doesn't create jobs. Why are you citing the positive changes in a community outside of YOUR district--why aren't you talking about what's happening in the schools in YOUR district? I know why and so does everyone else, they are being decimated. This opinion piece is really just a re-tread of the tired old rhetoric you've been spouting since your last election. In which, by the way, you did not campaign on cutting programs and giving tax breaks to corporations. REMEMBER? http://cognidissidence.blogspot.com/2008/09/alberta-darlings-new-campaign-strategy.html P
Lyle Ruble July 01, 2011 at 03:52 AM
@Sammy...You are so far out in right field that you can't be taken seriously. Tone down please. You know there is medications to help with your delusions.
Lyle Ruble July 01, 2011 at 03:52 AM
@Sammy...You are so far out in right field that you can't be taken seriously. Tone down please. You know there is medications to help with your delusions.
Drizzit July 25, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Thank you for bringing school choice to Racine & balancing the budget. I feel secure that our state is on the right track. Alberta has been so strong through all the hate & vicious attacks. I'm from Racine, but I work in her district & want to thank her constituents & colleagues. Now I may be able to help my children avoid one of the 15 failing schools in Racine. I also want to thank Alberta for saving my sister's job as a teacher.

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