Notes and Links on “The Battle of Wisconsin”

Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin cannot continue to spend more money than it has while pushing a pile of bills into the future.
For too long, Wisconsin has lurched from one budget shortfall to another.
The near-constant distraction of the state’s financial mess has kept our leaders from thinking long term. It has intensified partisan squabbles. It has forced difficult cuts and limited our state’s ability to invest in its future.
Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget, unveiled last week, is far from perfect. But it does one big thing right: It finally tackles Wisconsin’s money problems in a serious way – without the usual accounting tricks and money raids that only delay tough decisions.
Walker is largely doing in his budget proposal what he said he’d do: Fix the budget mess without raising taxes.

WPRI Poll: Wisconsinites want Walker to compromise

Wisconsinites overwhelmingly want GOP Gov. Scott Walker to compromise, a new poll says.
The poll, commissioned by a conservative-leaning think tank, also found that state residents think Democratic President Barack Obama is doing a better overall job than Walker.
Further, Wisconsinites narrowly disapprove of Senate Democrats’ decision to leave the state to block a Senate vote on Walker’s budget repair bill, which contains language to strip away most public employee union bargaining rights.
The poll of 603 Wisconsinites was commissioned by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and conducted between Feb. 27 and March 1, the day of Walker’s budget address, and has a margin of error of 4 percent. The survey of randomly selected adults included cell phone-users and was directed by Ken Goldstein, a UW-Madison political science professor on leave who is also the co-founder and director of the Big Ten Battleground Poll.
The poll’s release comes amid talks between Walker’s office and the Senate Democrats. Walker has hinted recently at compromise but said he won’t compromise on the core principles of his bi

Amy Hetzner:

Days after Gov. Scott Walker proposed major cuts to state education funding, school officials are still trying to find out how harsh the impact might be on their own districts.
Although the governor recommended a two-year, $834 million decline in state aid for schools and an across-the-board 5.5% decrease in per-pupil revenue caps – restricting how much districts can collect from state aid and property taxes – how that plays out at the local level could still shock some communities.
They have only to think of two years ago when the Democrat-controlled Legislature dropped school aid by less than 3% and nearly one-quarter of the state’s 425 school districts saw their general state aid decline by 15%. The proposed cut in school aid in Walker’s budget is more than 8% in the first year.
“Whenever the state tries to do things at a macro level, with formulas and revenue caps and so forth, there are always glitches,” said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

New York Times Editorial on New York’s Budget:

At a time when public school students are being forced into ever more crowded classrooms, and poor families will lose state medical benefits, New York State is paying 10 times more for state employees’ pensions than it did just a decade ago.
That huge increase is largely because of Albany’s outsized generosity to the state’s powerful employees’ unions in the early years of the last decade, made worse when the recession pushed down pension fund earnings, forcing the state to make up the difference.
Although taxpayers are on the hook for the recession’s costs, most state employees pay only 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions, half the level of most state employees elsewhere. Their health insurance payments are about half those in the private sector.
In all, the salaries and benefits of state employees add up to $18.5 billion, or a fifth of New York’s operating budget. Unless those costs are reined in, New York will find itself unable to provide even essential services.

And, finally, photos from Tennessee.
Tyler Cowen:

What to do? Time is no longer on the side of good. I suggest that we confront the nation’s fiscal difficulties as soon as possible. That means both tax hikes and spending cuts, though I prefer to concentrate on the latter. Nonetheless it is naive to think spending cuts can do the job alone, and insisting on no tax hikes drives us faster along the path of fiscal ruin. The time for the Grand Bargain is now, it will only get harder: