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State budget hole grows, state programs to blame

There's one huge detail Gov. Jim Doyle left out of his budget speech Tuesday night that the expected deficit has grown again.

It's now $5.9 billion, up from the $5.7 billion projected just a few weeks ago. The governor's aides disclosed the discrepancy at a briefing Tuesday.

The extra $200 million shortfall is due to higher than expected costs for a host of state programs. They include health programs for the poor, child care subsidies, and prison expenses.

Wednesday, the governor went to Milwaukee and elsewhere to sell public support for his budget which raises taxes by $1.4 billion, cuts spending below previous levels for the first time in decades and includes controversial policy items like the statewide public indoor smoking ban and limited legal protections for same-sex couples.

Federal stimulus funds would reduce the revenue shortfall by just more than $2 billion.

In the coming days, you're sure to hear surprise nuggets about the budget that legislators and the media will dig up when they read the fine print.

Wednesday, Assembly Republicans Scott Suder, Abbottsford; Joel Kleefisch, Oconomowoc; and Jeff Stone, Greendale; slammed the governor for reducing GPS satellite tracking of convicted sex offenders. They say it ends the tracking of child sex predators who are on parole.