State budget director Dave Schmiedicke and Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance President Todd Berry have a fundamental difference over the state’s budget deficit.
Schmiedicke says the bulk of the projected $5.4 billion budget shortfall is the result of crashing state revenues. Berry, a former assistant Revenue secretary, says the administration is “double counting” and the deficit is not nearly that large.
Schmiedicke said the difference between a revenue forecast done in June and this month is $3.5 billion. The balance of the $1.9 billion that makes up the rest of the deficit is the result of population growth in state institutions, caseload increases for state services like Medicaid and funding for pay increases already implemented for some state agencies, like the University of Wisconsin System.
“Everything we see is the result of the economy,” he said.
But Berry says the numbers assume an 8 percent spending increase in the first year of the biennium based on state agency budget requests. That is a level that is unlikely to be met in the final budget bill, Berry said.
“State spending growth has averaged 3 to 4 percent since 1998. It’s not going to rise 8 percent, and that’s what this document is saying,” he said.