I had to chuckle yesterday when I saw Wispolitics.com’s declaration that Governor Doyle would be delivering some “frank talk” in tonight’s State of the State address. Any time you see a politician declare that they are now going to be “frank” with us, it should set off some alarms. If they have been honest with us all along, why would they now have to declare that they’re telling the truth?
To his credit, as far as I can tell, Doyle himself didn’t use the term “frank,” although he said the speech would be “sober.” In fact, I guarantee the speech will be neither.
A “frank” and “sober” speech would say something like the following:
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Legislature and I have really mangled the state’s finances. Our use of fund raids, delaying payments, one-time budget plugs, issuing debt, and other dubious budget gimmicks has the state in roughly the same condition as Andy Dick with a platinum credit card. The second I signed our last budget adjustment bill, the Fiscal Bureau told us we had a $1.6 billion structural deficit – and that’s even without any increases in funding. And now, we’re going to have to cut some programs to make up for that overspending during the good times. In fact, it’s about time we take this opportunity to balance the state’s books and get us back on financial track.”
Of course, the speech will look nothing like the sort. It will be “sober” talk about how the recession is fully to blame for the state’s woes, and how the gracious and omnipotent President Obama is going to shower us with $3.5 billion in stimulus funds from on high to obfuscate the state’s woeful financial mismanagement. In fact, we don’t even know how to spend all the money we’re going to get – we have to set up a 15 person bureaucracy to figure out where to spend it all. In fact, expect more junk like this, which Doyle actually said:
“If we didn’t have a new president and we didn’t have a recovery act coming, it would be a pretty bleak world that we’re looking into,” Doyle said. “Now we’re looking at a world that’s very, very difficult, but in which there’s some real hope.”
Hope equals tax money. Shouldn’t be any surprise from a governor who has helped drive the state into the fiscal ditch by keeping the spending spigot going well beyond the rate of tax collections and inflation. All this state spending has certainly given him hope – he hopes Congress bails him out of this self-inflicted mess.
So tonight, I expect Doyle to look very serious. He will furrow his brow as he delivers the lugubrious news about the large budget deficit and the collapsing economy. However, the actual content of his speech will be an unrivaled stand-up comedy act. And the person who has to worry the most is the man or woman who will be giving the State of the State address in 2011, as they have to explain how to find the money to prop up all these state programs once the federal money has evaporated.