MADISON, Wis. — After months of insisting the state budget crisis was smaller than official estimates, the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has turned silent in light of decreased revenue collections putting the budget deficit at $6.6 billion.
“Todd Berry and the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance tried to convince us there was no looming budget deficit and no need to close corporate loopholes or raise taxes on the top one percent,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “With a $6.6 billion deficit, Wisconsin needs solutions, not a corporate-funded fiddle player supporting less taxes for the wealthy while Wisconsin’s future goes up in smoke.”
As the above graph shows, as early as mid-2008, Berry began insisting budget deficit numbers from officials at the capitol calculated at the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau were overstated. According to a November 2008 article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, “The overall message Berry provided was that the current economy is not as bad off as it was during previous downturns.” With states across the country facing record deficits as result of the failed Bush economic policies, experts agree this is the worst budget situation Wisconsin has faced in generations.
In an April 2008 column for the Capitol Region Business Journal, Berry estimated a budget shortfall as low as $650 million while official reports showed it much higher. In November 2008, when new official numbers put the deficit at $5.4 billion, Berry called the numbers “unreal.”
“Todd Berry and the Taxpayers Alliance either have suspicious data or suspicious motives,” said Ross. “The deficit is ten times bigger than what the Taxpayers Alliance predicted just one year ago and Todd Berry needs to be asked why WTA’s predictions were so wrong.”
One Wisconsin Now reported current and former board members of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated over $288,000 to Republicans and conservative candidates since 1991, compared to just $24,500 to Democrats and liberals. Berry was also a key speaker at the arch-conservative Americans for Prosperity anti-tax event in February joining Wisconsin’s leading Republicans and GOP
Madison spokesperson and policy expert Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher.