In a "column" Walker said…"We inherited a $3.6 billion deficit"

Budget will help move Wisconsin forward

By Scott Walker

April 2, 2013

What a difference a few years can make. In 2011, we inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit. Today, we have a surplus.

Scott Walker wrote an editorial (he called it a column) in the Journal Sentinel to highlight and underscore his achievements in office. As with most of the self evaluations brought forward by the Walker walker wins1administration, it was printed without comment or clarification leaving the reader to do the job of the press – you know things like investigative analysis or clarification of fact. The editorial was printed as though it
were a factual review of Walker’s administrative success.

The Wisconsin Media holds responsibility for the political divisiveness in our state. Where are the facts? When did the responsibility for fair journalism drop from the discussion of editorial boards? What is the result when journalism fails to clarify and analyze the facts? We get thrown into the maze of confusion, mis-quote, and obfuscation that clouds the truth or the facts which are imperative for a Democracy to function. What’s more, the political pundits and spinners are counting on the press to drop the ball, to print what is fed them by publicists with the result that the message with the money gets all the bang for its buck. When independent analysis and clarification are dropped from the public discussion the media becomes complicit in the spread of loose facts, misinformation, and promotes a mass ignorance that leads to the emotionally charged divisiveness where the facts are lost in an unending emotionally charged squabble. This is the real tragedy of Wisconsin Politics, and the media must take responsibility for falling down on the job by allowing itself to become another Walker Administration “tool”.

So this Walker “column” “Budget will help move Wisconsin forward” appeared in the Journal Sentinel and is being used as an example. The editorial page editor who presented the case of Scott Walker without journalistic review is David D. Haynes.

DAVID D. HAYNES, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, specializing in business and economics issues. He has worked at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and its predecessor the Milwaukee Sentinel) since 1994. He was senior editor for business news from 1997-2001 and later coordinated special projects and led the newspaper’s team of education reporters. A journalist since 1980, he previously worked in a variety of reporting and editing posts at newspapers in Indiana and Massachusetts.His e-mail address is Meet the Editorial Board and staff

TRUE until proven FALSE – Reporter: “It’s not my job.”

The “column” has been clarified and analyzed point by point in rebuttal article in the Green Bay Progessive Fact Check Shows Self Serving Scott Walker Editorial Ignores Reality

How many times have we read, seen, and heard the opening statement of the Walker “column” in the course of the last two years? The words were used in his election campaign, they were reiterated as a reason for his first budget, they re-echoed through his recall election fight, and here they are again as he prepares for a 2014 re-election bid.

…we inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit.

Do these words mean that the budget is balanced? No. It is another Walkerism – a half truth – a dangling part truth that sounds good to voters, and without a further and deeper look the statement is true! It sounds like it is working. How many times have we seen these words as the lead story, the pitch of a campaign ad, or the headline of a story in the major Wisconsin Newspapers? Yet, how many times have you seen any clarification or analysis of the back story of these words as they continue to appear and reappear as mantra of success for Walker’s “reforms”? For most of us the answer is never. For two years this claim has been allowed to stand as truth by most of the mainstream media in Wisconsin. Shame on you.

The accounting of budget numbers from one administration to another is an old political trick used by democrats and republicans over the years to make their conservative or progressive policies witness walker2appear “to be working”. Most people have no idea what the budget statements mean without clarification or investigation by the press. In the most recent “column” or any of the other instances where the mantra has been repeated, how many times has the press sought to clarify or define what is implied in the numbers?

Here is one instance where the accounting principles behind various deficit/balance statements were explained with clarity. Wisconsin Public Television’s “Here and Now” does a great job of explaining the difference between Walker’s “structurally” balanced budget and “real” balanced budget; using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

The video is about 5 minutes long, but it is time well spent if you “Stand with Walker” or are a veteran of “Recall Walker” – you need never be confused by the budget balance hat trick again!

Watch Capitol Insight on the status of Wisconsin deficit on PBS. See more from Here and Now.

IF Walker was a true “reformer” he would have stuck to his promise

If you “Stand with Walker” as a reformer, you have been sold out. As the video points out, Walker was all for requiring generally accepted accounting principles to balance every state budget. In fact, the promise was prominent on his web site during his campaign for governor”

Require the use of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to balance every state budget, just as we require every local government and school district to do.Walker for Governor Web Site 2010

When an honorable reform of requiring (GAAP) to balance every state budget proved to be politically inexpedient to Walker, he abandoned his promise. His choice was to abandon the reform so he could make the statement in his “column”:

Overall, our budget ends with a $23.1 million surplus, and the capital budget has less overall spending and less bonding than Gov Jim Doyle’s last budget. In other words, we have a balanced and prudent budget to help move Wisconsin forward.

No matter which side of the progressive/conservative fence you are on, you now know that the statement is “true” only based on Walker’s willingness to abandon true reform in favor of settling back into accounting principles that can further his personal political goals and make him look good on paper.

Walker’s “column” WSJ Online


3 thoughts on “In a "column" Walker said…"We inherited a $3.6 billion deficit"

  1. I emailed the LFB and found that Wisconsin’s Long Term GAAP Debt was $10.6 billion on June 30, 2011 increasing to $14.2 billion as of December 2012 due to the loans he took out and because he deferred all loan payments and other state obligations to give the illusion of a “surplus” that doesn’t exist. And now he’s asking for another $2.1 billion in loans:

    The LFB June 30, 2011 Long term GAAP Debt ~ Table 8 at top of page 33:

    The LFB December 2012 GAAP Long term Debt ~ Table 10 on page 19:

    If all this is true, and these are the official figures, Walker has already added $3.6 billion in debt already and is poised to add another $2.1 billion plus an estimated $800,000 in interest for a Grand Total of $6.5 billion in increased debt.


  2. Pingback: Walker’s Wisconsin – Censor, Edit, Control

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