Walker to defer debt payments to address Wis. budget deficit

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will defer more than $100 million in debt payments to deal with his state’s budget shortfall, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

The state’s nonpartisan budget office, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, reported on the procedure, known as a “scoop and toss,” which has been used by both Democratic and Republican governors in the state.

Since 2001, the state has delayed more than $1.5 billion in debt payments.

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Wisconsin’s legislature doesn’t need to approve the debt payment delay, which prevents the need for legislation to balance the budget by the end of June.

As a result, Wisconsin taxpayers would need to pay higher principal and interest payments, beginning with $19.3 million more for the next two-year budget cycle in June, the report said. 

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrats on Monday slammed Walker for again rejecting federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid programs. They argued his decision will cost taxpayers $345 million more over the next two years. Democrats said a federal expansion could ease education cuts Walker has proposed.

Walker has also come under fire for proposing $300 million in cuts from the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years.

The Republican governor, who was reelected in November to a second term, has been laying the groundwork for a possible White House bid and said in early February he wouldn’t bet against him launching a campaign.