Monday, November 20, 2006

Buyer's remorse

It may have been nice to know that the state faces a $1.6 billion dollar operating deficit over the next biennium before we elected a new Governor. It is possible, I suppose, that the Department of Administration finally figured this out in the ten days following the election but I'm guessing that it took at least that long just to check the math. Although the statute requiring the DOA to release this report provides that it be done "not later than November 20" of even-numbered years, that's a deadline not the end of an embargo period. I am shocked - just shocked- that our Governor kept this under wraps until after the vote. Imagine Jim Doyle engaging in a political orchestration of the workings of government. DOA Secretary Steve Bablitch says that this "structural deficit" (a fancy term for spending more than you have) is better than it was four years ago and maybe it is. The larger point is that Doyle campaigned for reelection on the claim that he had eliminated it at the same time that his underlings were calculating its size.

I know that Jim Doyle is not the only politician who would have - or even that has - instructed his Secretary of Administration to wait until the last possible day to release this information. I understand that cynical political afficionados are supposed to understand that the game is played in this way. I am saying that it should not be. I am saying that politicians may have an obligation to disclose certain things before an election and that the only way to encourage them to do so is to give them heat when they don't.

So once again Jim Doyle has covered himself in glory. I hope he likes being Governor because he's certainly given up enough for the privilege.


Dad29 said...

I suppose you really don't want to hear about the Feds' manipulation of "cost-of-living" during the Clinton and Bush Administrations, either...

Anonymous said...

"It may have been nice to know that the state faces a $1.6 billion dollar operating deficit over the next biennium before we elected a new Governor."

The operative words here are "over the NEXT biennium". In other words, the Governor and Legislature will have to figure out how to balance the books for the period which begins on July 1, 2007, and ends on June 30, 2009.

Now, exactly what is the problem?

Rick Esenberg said...

I guess I'm old fashioned but I think it would have enriched the public debate if 1) the governor hadn't claimed that this wouldn't happen, and 2) we could have heard the candidate's views about "how to balance the books."

Anonymous said...

Apparently you recently fell off the turnip truck, Rick, as this scenario has played out for many, many of the past biennia, regardless of who was the Governor and of which party.

During the campaign, your candidate Mark Green criss-crossed the state making one wild promise after another -- UW tuition would go down, quality would go up, we would cut taxes -- without you ever calling him to task for making inconsistent promises.

This is how politicians campaign. No one believes it.