First a little history. When Scott Walker was running for governor he attacked Governor Doyle for claiming he had a balanced budget, since the budget only balanced according to the rules used by the state for budgeting purposes, and not according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Fair enough, I guess. So far things are at least true.
Walker also promised to balance the budget when he took office and to balance it using GAAP. What he has actually done is to balance the budget according to the same state rules by which Doyle balanced the budget. By GAAP rules, the budget is still wildly out of balance. We all knew that. We all knew that Walker was fabricating the entire "we balanced the budget" story when in fact the budget is no more balanced now than when Doyle was in office. As always, it depends on what rules you use. Walker chose to use the same rules the state has always used. And the state budget is always balanced by those rules because it is legally required to be balanced.
But that's not what this article is about. What it is about is the blatant hypocrisy of the current administration, which keeps reaching for new levels. Late in December Mike Huebsch sent a letter to Kathleen Sibelius at the Department of Health and Human Services, asking for exemptions for Wisconsin's Medicaid plan. The legal justification? The state has a budget deficit. A whomping budget deficit. A deficit of approximately 3 billion dollars per year in this and next fiscal year.
It's often been said that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. I would like to add budget deficits to the trio. I understand perfectly that the deficit, or lack thereof, depends entirely on how you count. But it seems wildly disingenous for the governor to take credit for balancing the budget under the same rules that the state has always used to balance the budget, to damn the previous governor for doing the same thing, and then to plead poverty for the state so that we can cut off health care for people in desperate need. Add this to the many reasons Governor Walker must go. Either he fixed the budget deficit or he didn't. He can't keep having it both ways depending on which is most convenient.