OPINION: ‘Checkbook-busting’ Evers budget would take state finances from surplus to deficit


Gov. Evers recently announced his spending plan to expand the scope of government and increase total state expenditures in excess of 22% over the two-year budget cycle. With a laundry list of wishful ideas crammed into a 1,815-page budget proposal, this is arguably Evers’ most out-of-step budget proposal yet.

Evers’ budget spends down our projected $7.1 billion state surplus to an alarming $2.8 billion deficit by the end of this budget. Let that sink in. A good portion of the surplus is due to previous prudent and conservative fiscal practices by the Legislature. However, it includes tax collections from $68 billion in one-time federal Covid money sent to Wisconsin that cannot support the checkbook-busting permanent increases Evers proposes. Even the surplus was not enough as Evers’ proposed budget has a net increase in taxes. This budget proposes spending $103.8 billion versus the previous $87.5 billion budget.

Evers proposes $2.8 billion, a 17.27% increase, in K-12 spending while enrollment and achievement levels decline. Note that $2.8 billion is close to quadruple what Evers hailed as a record school aid increase in his first budget. The proposed increase in K-12 spending alone consumes over 90% of all projected revenue growth for the entire state. How are we to fund raises for 70,000 state employees, health care for the poor and disabled, public safety, inflationary costs in government services, the UW System, tax cuts and other priorities? This is not a serious proposal.


Furthermore, it is disappointing Evers attempts to slip far-left agenda items into his budget proposal. He looks to strangle our state’s school choice program by capping the total number of kids who may participate in the program in addition to imposing other roadblocks. Instead of expanding school choice and giving parents more say in their child’s education, this move would severely hamper school choice, affecting thousands of families across the state currently benefiting from educational options that actually save taxpayers money.

Evers also proposes taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction by repealing Act 10 and numerous labor reforms that were implemented over the past decade. Given our state’s workforce shortages and rising labor costs, this will only create more barriers and increase costs for both the public and private sectors, thus making our state economy less competitive.

The Evers budget includes giving driver’s licenses to undocmented immigrants, eliminating work requirements for able-bodied adults on welfare, prioritizing factors such as race and sexuality in government programs and services, significantly expanding government health care and erodes our Second Amendment rights. And on top of all that, adds 816 new government employees.

In the upcoming months the state’s budget writing committee will once again craft a responsible state budget. The Legislature will listen to the public and take their comments into consideration. At the end of the day, the Legislature will fund our priorities, address our obligations, cut taxes, protect taxpayers’ pocketbooks and prepare Wisconsin for the future.

Stroebel, of the Town of Saukville, represents Wisconsin’s 20th Senate District.


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