GOVERNOR WALKER CAN PADDLE, BUT CAN HE CUT?
The sticking point: Democrats and the Governor-They-Created have been unwilling to cut the budget this year. Republicans are getting the blame. Same as last year.
This forced a decision for Republicans..same as last year: Either allow the governor to shut down government, or pass a spending plan that is clearly too big to support without additional revenues.
Those additional revenues this year could come in part from SB 128, creating an endowment fund out of the Permanent Fund and all the other pots of money the state has sitting in accounts hither and thither; accounts that are not being invested for their highest yield. Managing it all as an endowment would spin off more revenues for State workers, but fewer dividends for the rest of us.
SB 128, while controversial because it lops $1,000 off of the 2017 Permanent Fund dividend of every citizen, passed the Senate — and will end up as road kill in the House.
It was the only solution the Senate could see working, since Democrats continue year after year to hold the budget hostage due to the
two-thirds three-quarters majority needed to tap into a reserve fund that would be used, once again, to pay for the part that oil revenues can’t cover.
And SB 128 is a reasonable solution, we argued last week, considering the choices.
But when it hits the House floor for a vote, representatives will probably say, “Hell, no.” And they’re also justified.
No worries. Governor Walker can, if he is serious, cut the out-of-control spending all by himself. He needs no further authority, as he alone has the veto pen. If this former Republican does make substantial cuts, the House might be inclined to help him out with a longer-term funding mechanism.
And if the governor is really serious, he could simply run a red line through the funding of next year’s Permanent Fund payout. Cut it in half yourself, Bill Walker: That would send a message.
Yes, the governor can actually do that. He grabbed the authority to expand Medicaid, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, so why doesn’t he just use his red pen on the Permanent Fund payout?
He won’t, because he’s playing games to try to dislodge the Bipartisan Majority and run the tables with his Democrats.
NO FISCAL PLAN
The budget is done, but is unsigned. Walker should have sent pink slips out two weeks ago when the calendar turned to June.
This year, unlike last year, the Democrats and state employee union leaders like Vince Beltrami are not in histrionics about the pink slips or the ticking clock. They are quiet as a mouse because they have the playbook from the governor. They understand the field — run the plays just like last year.