July 26, 2012

THE TEMPLATE:

From red to black, Wisconsin is back : States can secure positive bond ratings (Scott Walker, 7/24/12, Washington Times)

Since the largest portion of our state budget is aid to local governments, we dramatically lowered state aid payments. But our collective-bargaining changes provided a way for state and local governments to more than offset these reductions with savings from pensions and health insurance premium contributions, changes in work rules that allowed bidding out health insurance, reductions in overtime abuses, and overall reform.

These changes saved the hardworking taxpayers more than $1 billion, helped lower property taxes for the first time in 12 years on a median-valued home and turned a budget deficit into a surplus. Wisconsin has a great story to tell about reform.

As I travel to New York City this week to meet with each of the national bond-rating agencies, I am actually looking forward to reporting on our positive progress.

During the past 18 months, we stopped the raid on the transportation and patient compensation funds and dramatically took on the deficit with long-term, structural reforms that allow both state and local governments to balance budgets for years to come. In fact, for the first time in Wisconsin's history, we've set aside money for the rainy day fund in back-to-back fiscal years. In other words, we thought more about the next generation than we did about the next election.

According to a recent Pew Center study, Wisconsin is the only state pension system in the country that is fully funded, and we are one of only seven states that cover retiree health benefit obligations at 25 percent or higher. Last year, Moody's called our budget credit positive.

Posted by at July 26, 2012 5:31 AM
  

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