Walker Flinches on Releasing Budget in Face of Mounting Protests

Gov. Wants 'Time Out' on Radical Next Plan After Unprecedented, Indefinite Statewide Mobilization

MADISON, Wis. — Faced with growing protests in cities around Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker today asked for a second extension from the legislature to delay in providing the specifics of his proposed 2011-13 state budget. Walker now wants to give his speech on Tuesday, but not provide the press and the public with the details of his proposals until a later date.

By law (s. 16.45), the Wisconsin Governor is supposed to introduce his budget on or before the last Tuesday in January of the odd-numbered year (January 25, 2011). Already, Walker has received one extension from the legislature, delaying the introduction to next Tuesday, February 22. Based on records compiled by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Walker’s introduction of the budget would have been the latest in at least 34 years. (http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Informationalpapers/75_State Budget Process.pdf) Delaying the budget again would add more to Walker’s record of tardiness.

“Gov. Scott Walker has had since November 2 to prepare his budget, but now like a failing student who wasn’t ready to hand in his paper, he has asked for another extension,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “While Gov. Walker has plenty of time to appear on Fox News to criticize the Senate Democrats and call his fellow union-busting governors in other states, he obviously hasn’t found enough time to do his own job.”

The reason for Gov. Walker’s delay has become obvious over the last few days as details of his budget plans started to leak out. With ideas ranging from cutting aid to public schools by $900 million to privatizing UW-Madison and raising tuition by 20 percent, Walker appears desperate to keep the public from learning the details of his plans, especially while tens of thousands are already protesting at the Capitol and around the state in schools and universities.

Budget experts say that by this point in a budget cycle all of the final budgetary decisions should have been already made, the legislative language would been drafted by the Legislative Reference Bureau, and the supporting materials would be on the way to the printers. The only reason for a delay at this point would be to prevent the press and public from learning the details of his budget.

“Gov. Walker has tried to ram through in a week a scheme to use the government to take away the rights of workers across Wisconsin,” said Ross. “But, now he wants a ‘time out’ in telling Wisconsin just how radical his next plans are to dismantle our way of life in Wisconsin.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.