Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Bad week for Scott Walker

I don't have a horse in the GOP gubernatorial primary. But Scott Walker must be glad its Saturday.

The politicos and cheddarsphere are way into the contretemps between Walker and Mark Green. Green has said that he can't say that 2/3 state funding for education is guaranteed. Walker says that, if it isn't, property taxes will increase. Even if the TPA is passed, he says, this will happen because it allows local school districts to increase taxes to make up for a loss in state aid.

That's not quite right. As Dennis York points out, the TPA does not say that school districts can make up any shortfall from 2/3 funding. But its even stronger than that. The TPA allows that districts to avoid the revenue limits only if state aid drops below the level that exists in 2008 or 2009, depending on whether a government is on a calendar or fiscal year. In other words, it creates a floor that won't move. If state aid falls below 2/3, school districts will still be subject to the revenue increase limits. If the TPA did allow local tax increases to replace any loss in state revenue from a prior year, that would eventually become a huge loophole. As it is, it is unlikely that the state, even if abandons the rule of 2/3, will cut aid below the 2008 or 2009 levels.

Of course in a world without the TPA, what Walker fears could happen. But then why raise - incorrectly - the impact of the TPA? It must be because the less than 2/3 budget proposed by the GOP would have also froze property taxes.

Walker's attack was ill considered and now he's backfilling.

On top of that, he has been forced to ask for increased state aid for Milwaukee County. Its hard to blame him for that. The amount of County dollars going for employee health care (52%!)and to pay retirees is scandalous. The guy is trying to keep the Titanic afloat with a bucket and has been courageous in his efforts to protect County taxpayers. To his credit, his bailout requests seek relief from these ridiculous obligations. But its an incredibly bad situation to serve as a base for a state-wide run.

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