Doyle's Offset Plan May Cost Taxpayer Money

An independent analysis shows that Governor Jim Doyle's plans to get cash to offset the state's budget shortfall will cost the state $94 million down the road.

Doyle wants to refinance a loan so the state can use more of the money it receives from tobacco companies in a settlement of over health costs from smoking to pay for state health programs for the poor.

An analysis released by the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office shows the delay in paying off the debt will cost taxpayers $94 million.

Doyle announced the plan last year but expanded it after learning the state's current two-year budget would be $527 million short if nothing is done.

It's a switch for Doyle, who has long criticized a similar decision by his predecessor, Scott McCallum, and other lawmakers to help solve budget woes in 2001 and 2002.

Doyle as attorney general helped win the tobacco settlement.

He now wants to refinance the loans to receive a lower interest rate and extend the payments. He estimates it would free up $68 million a year for the state through 2020 to be used to balance the budget and cover health care costs.

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