Gov. Scott Walker talks about a drop in state tax
collections and a weak jobs report on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014,
in Madison, Wis.
MADISON — Gov.
Scott Walker tried to put a positive spin Friday on the one-two
punch of lackluster job numbers and a drop in tax collections that
will likely put the budget in the red next year, while Democrats
said the news shows that his policies are failing.
administration reported Thursday that tax collections were $281
million less than anticipated for the fiscal year that ended in
June. That puts the two-year budget on pace to be at a $115
million shortfall by June 30.
Adding to the bad
news, the state Department of Workforce Development reported late
Thursday that private-sector jobs grew just 1.3 percent during the
12-month period ending in March. State-by-state comparisons won't
be available until Sept. 18, but the slow growth is on par with
Wisconsin's last quarterly report when the state ranked 37th
nationwide for 2013.
The weak economic
news came on the heels of a Marquette University Law School poll
on Wednesday that showed Walker and Democratic challenger Mary
Burke in a dead heat. It was the third Marquette poll since May
showing the race as essentially tied.
the scope of the disappointing tax collections Friday after
meeting with supporters at his Madison field office, saying it
could be rectified by controlling expenditures and continued
continue to manage our expenditures and continue to do things to
help increase the economy, increase revenues alike, to finish off
this biennial budget we're in with a balanced budget and ideally
with another surplus that we'll be more than happy to return back
to taxpayers," Walker told reporters.
Walker and the
Republican Legislature have cut taxes by about $2 billion since he
took office, a move Democrats have criticized as irresponsible and
leading to the looming budget shortfall. Walker said that will be
a defining issue in the governor's race.
Burke, a former
state Commerce Department secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim
Doyle, seized on the weak jobs numbers and tax collections,
calling it evidence that Walker's policies aren't working and
"underscores how badly we need a new direction."
Rep. Jon Richards, of Milwaukee, said the shortfall could have
been avoided if Republicans would have accepted a more modest tax
cut proposal put forward by Democrats that focused on lowering
wants to see more money in the hands of hardworking Wisconsin
families, but Scott Walker and his allies in the Legislature don't
know how to do that in a fiscally responsible way," Richards
have been front and center in the governor's race, including
whether Walker can meet his signature 2010 campaign promise,
repeated during his 2012 recall, that he would oversee the
creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs during his first term. To
date, only about 103,000 jobs have been added, making it virtually
certain Walker won't meet his promise in the next five months.
contrasts the job growth over the past three years with a loss of
133,000 jobs during Doyle's second term. Walker also points to the
state's improving unemployment rate, which at 5.8 percent is the
lowest it's been since 2008.
preliminary job-growth numbers reported by the state Department of
Workforce Development on Thursday show the state added 28,653 jobs
from March 2013 to March 2014. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics
last comparative report covering 2013, Wisconsin's job growth was
1.2 percent, ranking it 37th nationwide. The national job growth
rate was 2.1 percent.
those numbers, saying they were still better than when Burke
worked for Doyle as the head of the state agency in charge of
economic development. During the time Burke was Commerce secretary
from January 2005 to November 2007, Wisconsin ranked 42nd
nationwide in private-sector job growth.
The governor also
said he was concerned about Republicans being complacent and
fatigued heading into the election this year following big GOP
wins in 2010 and subsequent recall elections in 2011 and 2012.
voters will become more engaged in the coming weeks as they focus
on the election and as he unveils details about his agenda for a
second term. Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has
refused to promise to serve a full second term if re-elected.