Gov. Walker is accustomed to passing the buck when troubling economic news arisesWisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is planning to defer $101 million in debt payments, kicking the proverbial can down the road and costing state taxpayers millions of dollars in increased interest costs rather than footing the bill now.
This is something that governors of Wisconsin regularly do. Jim Doyle, for example, restructured debt payments by about $687 million over his two terms in office.
But Walker is claiming that he’s a responsible budgeter of Wisconsin’s finances. His total debt deferments say otherwise, having already surpassed Doyle’s deferments totals in a shorter span of time, totaling more than $773 million in a period of just five years. And that total is BEFORE you take into consideration the debt restructuring that was announced this week.
So while Gov. Walker touts questionable budget surpluses, remember: he’s just making a mess for future governments to clean up years down the road. After all, anyone can claim a surplus when they don’t take into account their debts.
But yesterday the governor made some interesting comments about WHY he’s deferring the debt in the first place. His rationale? He’s blaming the president, of course.
Gov. Walker told 27 News Wednesday he wants to keep that cash on hand to cover any shortfalls caused by unexpected economic downturns in the national economy.As Jake of Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse points out, that answer is utter b.s.
"The bottom line is we have concerns about the Obama economy nationally and we want to make sure Wisconsin's prepared for it," said Gov. Walker. "And the reason we're able to do that is we have the lowest level of bonding in some 20 years…”
This isn't a refinancing of debt, where some form of debt is traded in for lower interest rates and costs over time. This was $101 million that would have been paid off and be off the books. What the Walker folks are doing is the equivalent of begging their creditors to restructure their debt because they can't pay them right now.Blaming the president is problematic for Walker for another reason: economically speaking, President Barack Obama has a much better record than our governor does.
The U.S. has seen its economy grow by a stronger rate, for example. From 2010 to 2013 (PDF) the U.S. GDP growth was 2.0 percent. In Wisconsin, GDP grew by 1.8 percent during the same time period. While that’s not a huge difference, it is reason to give pause to Walker’s warnings about “concerns about the Obama economy nationally” -- concerns that Walker doesn’t give any explanation to whatsoever.
On jobs as well, Wisconsin is doing substantially worse than the rest of the nation under the current governor’s watch. In fact, out of the 50 states in the union Wisconsin ranks 40th in terms of jobs growth since 2011, when Scott Walker took control of the governor’s office.
Passing the buck on the state’s economic problems isn’t unfamiliar ground for Gov. Walker. He’s done it before, blaming everything he can imagine (except himself) for the state’s dismal record. From Obamacare, the debt ceiling, the 2012 presidential elections, and yes, even rain itself, the fault lies everywhere else except at his own feet according to Walker.
But if you were to ask me, I’d tell you straight up that Wisconsin’s economic problems lie squarely with the governor himself. He has failed to produce anything substantial in Wisconsin, save for his fancy sound bytes and empty press releases.