Mr. Dilettante: Minnesota, Wisconsin or Illinois — Which will get its state budget right?

Chances are you’ve heard the various states termed “laboratories of democracy” or somesuch. My home state of Wisconsin is taking a very different approach than two of its neighbors right now and it’s going to be a fascinating thing.

Wisconsin’s new governor, Republican Scott Walker, is not showing state employees a lot of love:

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that thousands of state workers would be laid off if the Legislature does not adopt his budget fix that cuts public worker benefits and takes away almost all union bargaining rights from public workers.

A Walker aide confirmed that the benefit reductions would cost the average state worker thousands of dollars a year, or roughly 8% of his or her salary.

Walker also signaled that in a larger budget plan coming later this month he would trim aid to municipalities and let local officials deal with those cuts at least in part through savings on public employee costs.

Meanwhile, here in Minnesota, our new Governor, Brave Sir Mark Dayton, vetoed a spending bill with actual cuts:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday quickly vetoed the first bill to reach his desk, a Republican budget-cutting measure that the Senate had passed just three hours earlier.

No one should have been surprised. The new Democratic governor had signaled for weeks that he opposed the approach taken by the House and Senate Republican majorities.

The bill would have cut state spending by $901 million over the next two years, making a down payment on plugging a projected $6.2 billion budget shortfall.

And on Wisconsin’s southern flank, in January the lame duck Illinois legislature gave its residents a massive increase in the state income tax:

Patrick J. Quinn, the governor of Illinois and a Democrat, praised the decision of state lawmakers — in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday — to raise the individual income tax rate by about 66 percent as a necessity to avert the state’s “fiscal emergency,” which includes a budget deficit of more than $13 billion, about $8 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, pharmacies and others, and a sinking bond rating.

So, at this time in 2013, which state is going to be in the best shape among the three? Which will be in the worst shape? Place your bets in the comment section.

This post was written by Mark Huering and originally published on Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood.

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