George Lightbourn and his minions at the right wing WPRI have been lecturing Governor Doyle and the legislature on sound budgeting. Lightbourn hardly seems to be the person to give advice on difficult budgets since he has helped cause his fair share of them. George Lightbourn was the Secretary of Administration under two Republican governors. One was Governor Scott McCallum who presided over what was probably one of the worst budget crises in state history. Actually, at the time, Lightbourn admitted to reporters that the state budget ‘was in the worst shape that it had been in some twenty years.’
In an attempt to partially fix their budgetary mess, Lightbourn and his boss thought it wise to do a one time quick fix, by raiding the tobacco settlement fund. Essentially they sold off the entire tobacco settlement for only pennies on the dollar. Their bright thinking took Wisconsin’s more than $5.9 billion in anticipated settlement payments and sold it to investors for a lump sum of only $1.6 billion.
McCallum and Lightbourn took such drastic action and still left Wisconsin with a record budget deficit on their way out the door.
Since we are still dealing with the consequences of McCallum’s poor budgeting skills, why would we ever take advice from one of his key guys at the time? George Lightbourn may be offering free budget advice now, but we should remember what his paid advice cost us only six years ago.