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New Fiscal Woes in Wisconsin Threaten Scott Walker's 2016 Plans

Image: New Fiscal Woes in Wisconsin Threaten Scott Walker's 2016 Plans
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By    |   Tuesday, 12 May 2015 11:23 PM

Wisconsin's fiscal woes have set off a new round of bickering among state legislators, threatening Gov. Scott Walker's record on financial management as he weighs a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

"We're all going to have to scratch and claw and figure out how to get through this budget," Wisconsin Senate President Mary Lazich, a Republican from the Milwaukee suburbs, told The Washington Post. She once carpooled with Walker.

"When I listen to my constituency that elects me and puts me here, they see government as having plenty of money," Lazich said.

Walker and GOP lawmakers have proposed another round of budget cuts as the revenue promised from other budget efforts have failed to fully materialize, the Post reports, and these reductions would affect funding for healthcare, public schools, and the state's university system.

Republicans generally are balking against raising taxes and most fees — and Democrats working feverishly to halt the cuts while slamming Walker for playing presidential politics with the state budget, the Post reports.

The governor is visiting Israel this week. He is expected to announce his White House intentions next month. The Badger State's budget is set every two years.

"He's running for president, and he has checked out of here and has used people here in this state to further his political ambition," State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat whose district is near Madison, told the Post. "He lands in Wisconsin, does his laundry, gets back on the plane and leaves."

They also charge that Walker wants to cut funding to various social and public services while working to keep a tax break for manufacturers and farms and making final plans to issue $220 million in bonds for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.

However, the governor continues to meet every week with legislative leaders and remains in regular contact with lawmakers, his staff and others, said Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

"The bottom line is Governor Walker's focus is on making sure Wisconsin is a great place to live, work, and raise a family," she told the Post.

While Wisconsin's unemployment rate — at 4.6 percent in March — remains lower than the national average of 5.5 percent, private-sector job growth is among the lowest in the nation and wages remain stagnant, the Post reports.

The state's middle-income households, those earning between $34,500 and $103,000, has shrunk at a faster rate than any other in the country, according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts cited by the Post.

"When does this trickle-down economics kick in?" state Sen. Robert Wirch, a Democrat from southeast Wisconsin, said last week during a hearing on repealing a law that would help set a minimum wage for state construction jobs. "Maybe it's time we try something else. ... Your philosophy, with all due respect, is not working."

But Republicans counter that Wisconsin's economy is stronger than Democrats contend and that the state's problems illustrate a slow national recovery.

"When the economy does pick up across the country, I think we will really be able to kick it into gear and probably outpace a number of other states," GOP state Sen. Stephen Nass, who represents southern Wisconsin, told the Post.

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Wisconsin's fiscal woes have set off a new round of bickering among state legislators, threatening Gov. Scott Walker's record on financial management as he weighs a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Wisconsin, financial, woes, Scott Walker, president, complaints
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2015-23-12
Tuesday, 12 May 2015 11:23 PM
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