“Wisconsin lowered taxes and reduced regulation and that increased jobs in the state, right?” A journalist from a national newspaper asked about the state of our economy for a story he was writing.
“The assumption you are making is that the only thing holding back growth is taxes paid by business,” I told the reporter. “And regulation,” he added.
I explained to the reporter that economic growth depended on many factors. Business needs a skilled workforce. Companies need a functioning infrastructure, including broadband, an efficient transportation system, good schools, a university system on the edge of tomorrow, safe streets, and vibrant communities where people want to live, work, start a business and raise a family.
“There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit.
To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just a coffee shop. It was a symbol of comradery at the Veterans Home in King. Everyday veterans gathered in the shop to trade stories. Now impersonal machines have replaced the shop – a victim of budget cuts.
Tim Michael added, “Shouldn’t be so hard to get treatment for PTSD. Why do we have a surplus when we need these things?”
Funding roads is an important job for state leaders. Nine cents of every state budget dollar goes towards transportation. In the vagaries of Wisconsin state budgeting, this includes dollars the feds send Wisconsin (about forty cents of every road dollar comes from Uncle Sam).
A prudent fiscal manager must balance several factors to make wise transportation decisions. He or she must maintain our current investments, plan for future growth, pay scrupulous attention to efficiencies and quality construction, and reconcile spending with revenue.
In short, a prudent transportation budget is a balancing act.
“Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebrated 50 years of service to the people of the State of Wisconsin.
LAB is the agency that works quietly behind the scenes to ensure state government delivers quality services. The agency has earned high marks for its work in national circles and criticism from both sides of the aisle in its detailed depiction of problems and recommended changes to state government.
As described in the words of former State Auditor Janet Mueller, the LAB serves as “the Steward of the People’s Money.”