Not much news on the state budget front this week. Why not? After all, it’s late April, and the Joint Finance Committee has been getting set to wrap up its work and send the budget back to the full legislature for a while now.
In fact, JFC decided not to meet at all this week. Instead, they have postponed any further meetings and votes until after the April revenue estimates are announced, which is set to happen this coming Monday.
Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the ridiculousness of this situation. The Wisconsin legislature’s very powerful budget committee, whose job is to help set state spending priorities for the coming two years, is waiting on a near-term revenue estimate to determine the fate of public K-12 and the UW System (and much else besides). Legislators who have wide latitude to craft budget policy in order to achieve their professed goals are throwing up their hands and praying for rain. The elected leaders who have it in their power to restore full funding for public education in Wisconsin are instead eyeing the Department of Revenue like a bunch of TV weathermen camping out for Punxsutawney fucking Phil.
Will spring tax receipts see their own shadow? The governor’s office has been hinting furiously that there won’t be much new revenue to work with. And with our Republican-run state government having deliberately tied one hand behind its budgetary back, that means the proposed cuts likely won’t be reduced by much. Walker today suggested that he would support a reduction in the cut to UW’s two-year colleges, which, thanks in part to their getting only about a quarter of the per-student funding that Madison enjoys, are facing a true existential threat from the cuts. UW System President Ray Cross, meanwhile, unaccountably spoke against the idea of sparing the UW Colleges.
Monday should be interesting; more anon.