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Governor Evers and Speaker Vos have been fighting over who should get credit for the bipartisan budget they forged last year. Both of them are proud their bipartisan budget cut taxes and increased spending, hence proving to their satisfaction that we can have our cake and eat it too. Evers and Vos think their budget represents one of the most impressive feats of fiscal statesmanship in Wisconsin history.

In fact, events are proving the Evers/Vos bipartisan budget is one of the greatest fiascos in Wisconsin fiscal history. Despite what Evers and Vos might think, Wisconsinites can’t really have our cake and eat it too. The next Governor and Legislature will be tasked with fixing the mess Evers and Vos created.

How is it that Evers and Vos are so mistaken about their budget?

First of all, when they devised the budget neither Evers nor Vos expected all the inflation we are getting. So, in reality when Evers and Vos say their budget increased spending on their shared priorities this is only true in a nominal rather than a real sense. For example, the Evers/Vos budget, which is slated to spend around 6%-7% more on education over the biennium in nominal terms, will, after we adjust things for inflation, which is running at above 5% per year, probably end up spending less in real terms on education than we did before. Of course, Evers and Vos will argue that no one could have known that inflation was going to occur, etc., etc. But while such sad excuses are to be expected they will be rejected. Both Evers and Vos were warned . And even if neither heard the warning good leaders anticipate the future, they don’t misjudge it and then cry out, “No one could have known!”.

Besides missing the inflation surge the passage of time is revealing that Evers and Vos made unrealistic assumptions on the revenue side of the budget equation as well. It is ironic that just last week, at precisely that moment when the stock market was tipping over into correction (and probably worse) territory, the Evers administration proudly projected that revenue collections would turn out to be higher than anticipated during the Evers/Vos budget biennium. Here is a news flash for Evers and Vos. Your revenue projections are off target. Instead of raising them you should be lowering them. Consider yourselves warned, twice.

In the current economic environment, which is trending down, Evers and Vos have demonstrated they have zero situational awareness. They failed to anticipate correctly where we were last summer, when they made this disastrous budget, where we are now, as it is coming unraveled, and where we will be on election day, at which time it will be in shambles. Speaking such truths bluntly is not a personal criticism of either of them or an attack upon their character. It is a statement of fact necessary for the people of Wisconsin to absorb before they make personnel decisions concerning who will and who will not occupy top leadership positions in our state government after the 2022 elections. As soon as the grim nature of our emerging budget reality dawns upon Evers and Vos expect amusing attempts by both of them to obscure it or blame it on the other in a futile attempt to save themselves from the axe—which is even now (metaphorically) being sharpened by the electoral executioner.

Some in Wisconsin have built their assumptions about the dynamics of the 2022 Wisconsin elections on the predicate that the budget Evers and Vos worked out last summer was a good budget. But that is a false predicate. The Evers/Vos bipartisan budget is proving to be a disaster and the magnitude of that disaster will become increasingly clear as we move toward election day. Those who advocated strongly for this flawed budget will be swept away.

Those who have spoken wisdom consistently throughout the cycle regarding this flawed budget, or who wake up and start speaking wisdom about it sooner rather than later, will be rewarded with the thankless job of cleaning up the mess Evers and Vos have made.

— Mobley is president of Thiensville.

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