Suddenly, Wisconsin state officials discover there is a need for major state agency budget cuts, especially at the UW, even though the current state budget is just a few months old.
Milwaukee County residents and courthouse observers will recognize this "oops" budgeting.
As a former county supervisor Jim McGuigan wrote in 2004:
In his past two budgets he has systematically over-estimated revenues, causing a fiscal crisis that will automatically trigger by mid-summer. This mechanism allows Walker to keep his tax freeze pledge and true to his extremist ideology, cut programs and employees mid year. This past year there were several mid-year cuts with the pool closings gaining the most attention...
The Walker budget understates expenses and overstates revenues. He relies on $2,000,000 more in court related revenues which he hopes to get from the state through increased lobbying and some good old-fashioned wishful thinking. The Doyle administration has already said it’s not going to happen. Parks are anticipated to draw in $19 million in fees and other revenues, but on a good year, the County only brings in about $17.3 million...
By inserting unrealistically rosy revenue projections into next years budget, Walker has again won approval of a budget that will require deep cuts by mid-summer; well after his upcoming April election. Parks, bus services and other programs will have to be trimmed back or eliminated in order to fill the problems of a built in budget deficit. Last year he said the need to close pools earlier than normal was due to an unexpected deficit. County residents should expect to see a need for similar “unforeseen” cuts in 2004.Isolated incidents?
In 2008, the County had to order sudden cuts because, again, revenues were not coming in as projected and shortfalls were showing up before the last fiscal quarter had begun:
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker ordered a series of belt-tightening moves to offset a projected year-end deficit of nearly $6 million, including a partial hiring freeze and layoffs of temporary workers, supervisors were told Wednesday.
Walker also halted nonessential travel, suspended most overtime and ordered cuts in energy use...Notice that Walker said he didn't know anything about the situation - - a pattern I've found in Walker statements and actions since a 1988 controversial election he was running as a student at Marquette University where his party was found to have violated the rules.
Walker said he didn’t know the red ink was growing to nearly $6 million when he decided on the raises over the summer. “It was not even on our radar screen at the time,” he said.