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Tax group concerned about state's debt


MADISON, WI (WXPR) -  While the state budget deficit is said to have been erased, a tax and spending expert says Wisconsin's long-term debt has grown by 132 percent over the past decade in per capita terms.

Dale Knapp from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the increasing debt has some lawmakers in Madison concerned. “The additional borrowing for roads and buildings and those kinds of things (concerns him), and they have been rising over the past decade.”

State debt climbed from almost $6 billion in 2002 to $13.5 billion in 2012. Governor Walker's budget would add $1 billion dollars in new bonding, with almost all of it going to transportation. Knapp says the Walker administration is also asking for $2 billion dollars in additional bonding authority to refinance existing debt aimed at cutting interest costs. He says during the Doyle administration, they shifted money from the Transportation fund to balance the budget. “What that was doing was really borrowing for, not roads, but ongoing spending. It was just a maneuver, and that’s what’s troubling. This budget doesn’t do that, but you know the state is already paying off this large amount of debt.”

Knapp says paying off the interest on the debt has moved into the top 10 programs in terms of state spending.