Warren Petryk, freshman Assemblyman for the 93rd District in Western Wisconsin, penned his thoughts on his support of Governor Walker’s Buget Repair Bill passed into law earlier this month. In his newsletter to constituents, Warren explained why he backed the Governor’s actions and the potential savings that could result in several Western Wisconsin counties from its enactment:
My Thoughts on the Budget Repair Bill
My humble intention is to help establish a degree of focus and clarity to the current confusion, misinformation, chaos, and divisiveness that have emerged as a result of the current dialogue between the public, the media, the Legislature, the Governor, and the special interest groups. Let’s begin the restorative, healing process of once again moving our State forward.
The facts presented through research conducted by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau are there for those who care to see and hear: Wisconsin is broke and on the brink of bankruptcy (as are 47 other States in this great Nation). This unfortunate fact is the result of decades of irresponsible spending and unchecked program expansion by leaders of both political parties. It is not the imaginative political creation of the new Walker Administration and/or the new Republican Majority.
In my opinion, we must now face this harsh economic reality with the courage and resolve to respond to the challenge by judiciously and wisely cutting back spending to programs until we reduce our huge debts and can emerge financially stronger than ever before in the future. The old pattern of deficit spending with its resultant ever-growing debt that we been unfairly passing along to our children and their children must end now. Isn’t it totally irresponsible of us to believe, even for a moment, that we can remain on this unsustainable path of spending money that we do not have?
History teaches us that we never have been, and never will be, able to tax and spend our way out of debt or a recession. This is the central fact that must now determine the correct response to our State’s current financial crisis. $3.6 billion dollars of budget shortfall is, whether we like it or not, an insurmountable hurdle unless we make substantial, and perhaps painful, spending cuts to State programs. Unlike our previous State Legislature and Governor, we have no Federal one-time stimulus money headed our way, we will not be raiding segregated funds, and the Majority Party told people during the campaign that we will not raise taxes in this Budget. The two-year ultimate goal of the upcoming Budget is to reduce our State’s structural deficit from $3.6 billion to a mere $250 million while not raising taxes. This would be the lowest Wisconsin State structural deficit in nearly two decades!
It would be wonderful if Wisconsin were not broke and we could afford to freely appropriate vast sums of dollars to our hundreds of great State programs and to award generous salary and benefit increases for our 300,000-plus very deserving, valuable, hard-working, and highly respected teachers, administrators, highway workers, engineers, clerks, and other public employees. After a tough adjustment period to a new and reformed manner of doing the State’s business based on spending within our means, I am very confident that we will be presented with opportunities to expand programs and positions in a new and sustainable way. Today, we all need to be thinking unselfishly in terms of a shared long-range vision to build a strong future for generations to come. We need to become even more frugal and responsible and be willing to make the hopefully short-term sacrifices that our present financial crisis demands from us. As the Representative of the 93rd Assembly District, I will listen, work hard, and do everything within my ability to help make that prosperous future a reality for the people of our great home State of Wisconsin.
On Thursday, March 10, 2011, the Wisconsin State Assembly, after actions taken by the Wisconsin State Senate, passed a scaled back version of the Governor’s Budget Repair Bill. The bill contained changes to public employee contributions for health insurance premiums and their pensions. The bill also contained changes to the public union’s collective bargaining. Now, the Legislature will start working on the Governor’s proposed 2-year state budget. The Joint Finance Committee will hold multiple public hearings on this bill, they will offer amendments that will change the legislation and they will vote to pass the legislation out of committee and onto the Senate and the Assembly for further debate and more amendments to the legislation. Our State Constitution mandates that we complete this task before July 1, 2011. We will keep you up-to-date as the process takes place.
Savings from Passage of the Budget Repair Bill
The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo on March 15, 2011 laying out the savings that the 93rd Assembly District will likely see resulting from passage of the Budget Repair bill, 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. I am extremely pleased that our area will see extensive savings which will help our local governments to balance their budgets.
The Fiscal Bureau memo provided information on potential savings for public employers based on the higher employee contributions for retirement benefits. In the Eau Clare Area School District, the potential savings with contributions of 5.8% for public employee pensions could save the school district $3,444,800 and the Menomonie Area School District could save $1,101,500. Also, Eau Claire County Government could see a savings of $1,235,200 for non-protective employees and $161,000 for protective employees; Dunn County savings of $999,700/ $159,800; Pepin County savings of $200,800/ $47,900; and Pierce County Government savings of $631,800/ $158,300. Lastly, for the Chippewa Valley Technical College, the savings based on the 5.8% contribution could provide savings of $1,623,200.
The Joint Finance Committee has begun their work on the Governor’s proposed 2011-13 Wisconsin State Budget. Yes, the budget bill the Governor has proposed does contain cuts to local municipalities, but with the savings from the Budget Repair Bill, our local governments will be better able to handle the proposed cuts in state aid. Keep in mind, it is not known if the Governor’s Budget bill will remain intact or if the Joint Finance Committee will recommend certain changes. After the work of the Joint Finance Committee is completed and the public hearings have been held, the Legislature will begin debating the issues of the state budget as well.
I will continue to work with my constituents regarding their concerns regarding the proposed biennial budget. I will also be discussing issues with my colleagues and Governor Walker. I am certain that together, we can craft a budget bill that helps ease the state’s fiscal crisis while reining in state spending and not raising taxes.
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