Report shows Wisconsin headed for fiscal disaster - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Report shows Wisconsin headed for fiscal disaster


MADISON (WKOW) -- It's no secret that California is in deep financial trouble. But a new report shows nine other states, including Wisconsin, are headed toward economic disaster, as well.

A report released Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States says Wisconsin is tied with Illinois for the ninth-worst economic future, behind California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Florida and New Jersey, in that order.

The report, called "Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril," used six indicators of financial trouble:

- change in revenue
- budget gap
- change in unemployment
- foreclosure rate
- supermajority requirement to raise revenue and ratify budgets
- the "money grade" from the Center's Government Performance Project, which analyzes how well states manage their fiscal affairs

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Decker (D-29th District) refuted the report Thursday, saying Wisconsin is on sound fiscal footing and the state will pull through the recession just fine.

"I think Republicans and Democrats alike feel more comfortable with the fiscal bureau doing that stuff than some group who has an agenda," said Decker.

Other state Democrats say the report is factually inaccurate and that Wisconsin's budget is balanced. But Pew says it looks at facts, not politics.

"We look at where states are when they go into the legislative bureau," said Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. "They predict what their revenue is going to be, they know what their spending is going to be, and does that match? In Wisconsin's case, it has not matched in 2010 or in the last three or four years."

Many economics experts say the report doesn't surprise them.

"I don't think [politicians'] opinions reflects on the quality of the report," said Jack Huddleston, professor of urban and regional planning at UW-Madison. "Pew is a good research institution, so I have quite a bit of confidence in their work."

Huddleston says the numbers don't lie, and a steeper decline may be inevitable.

"In the short term, there's not much we can do," said Huddleston. "The revenues are off, the demands on the state government are up because of the recession, so we'll just have to tough it out and do what we've been doing."

The Pew Center says research shows the national economy is showing signs of recovery, but states typically lag behind the nation in recovering from a recession.

The Pew Center on the States is a division of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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