New guv boxing shadow, state deficit

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published May 1, 2001  | May 2001 issue

With former Gov. Tommy Thompson assuming a cabinet position as head of the Health and Human Services Department, some insiders said new Gov. Scott McCallum, Thompson's lieutenant governor for 14 years, had to find a way out from behind Thompson's shadow. With projections of lower-than-normal tax collections this year, he'll likely get his chance.

Facing a shortfall of some $550 million, McCallum's first budget attempted to make up the difference by spending less and looking creatively for additional revenue. He proposed a 2.9 percent increase in state's biennial budget—the smallest increase in over a decade. It virtually froze state aid to local governments, and gave only about $55 million for the university system—the lowest increase in three decades, but since upped to almost $100 million.

McCallum also proposed to auction off $5 billion in tobacco payments scheduled to be paid over the next 30 years, with the expectation of netting $1.3 billion immediately and using $350 million against the deficit.

Ronald A. Wirtz