Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke responded to Gov. Scott Walker’s plans for the state’s projected $977 million surplus in a press conference Tuesday.
Burke stated the projected surplus is “based on some pretty rosy assumptions” and Walker’s plan is “irresponsible.”
“We know that 2013 was a record year in the stock market, and as a result, 75 percent of the states across the country are seeing these projected surpluses,” Burke said. “In just the first five weeks of this year, we’ve already seen how volatile the stock market can be and how quickly these rosy assumptions can go away.”
Burke said Walker is spending money the state does not have yet without addressing a “large number of financial obligations,” including record-high debt and other shortfalls.
Burke said the state incurred $1.2 billion in debt under Walker’s administration.
“Put simply, Walker’s approach is to borrow and spend, and it’s left us in a weaker position financially, while we continue to lag the nation in job creation,” Burke said.
Wisconsin’s structural deficit would be $825 million in the next biennium under Walker’s plan, according to Burke. The state also has not paid $957 million in transportation projects and left a $92 million “hole” in Medicaid, which Burke attributed to Walker’s refusal of federal funding.
Burke said she would spend half of the projected surplus to pay down the debt and “bolster our rainy day fund,” and allocate the other half to target middle class property taxes.
“Our economy grows when we grow and strengthen the middle class,” Burke said.
Burke also said Walker’s cuts to worker training and technical colleges “have put us in a weaker position.”
“My top priorities as governor will be making sure that folks have good-paying jobs by supporting small business growth and making sure that workers have the education and the skills to fill them,” Burke said. “I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves and make these commitments that … if the surplus doesn’t come true, puts us in a bigger hole.”
“Wisconsin has everything we need to have a top 10 thriving economy in the country, but what we lack is the leadership to get it done,” Burke concluded.