Hitting the (budget) snooze button

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published January 1, 2007  | January 2008 issue

You'll have to forgive Wisconsin legislators if they feel like the upcoming legislative session is a bit of déjà vu—they approved their biennial state budget just a few short months ago, some 115 days after the legislative session officially let out.

Passed in late October, the $57 billion state budget represents an increase of almost 7 percent over the previous two-year budget, much of it the result of higher, formula-based costs for existing programs, and higher wages and benefit costs for state workers. There were some notable new items: increased taxes on cigarettes by $1 per pack, raised transportation-related fees by $274 million and a controversial transfer of $200 million out of a state account that helps in-state doctors pay for medical malpractice claims.

After the budget was approved by the Legislature, Gov. Jim Doyle used his line-item veto powers to revise local property tax levy limits from 2 percent to almost 4 percent. He also vetoed a proposed 4 percent levy limit on two-year colleges. Had it been enacted, all but two of the state's two-year colleges would have had to make budget cuts, because each had budgeted for higher local levies while they waited for the budget to be passed.

Ronald A. Wirtz