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Officials deny national report that Wisconsin's budget is in dire straits

State officials deny that Wisconsin's budget is in dire straits. And they take issue with a report from yesterday that Wisconsin and Illinois share the nation's ninth-worst budget crisis.

The Pew Center on the States said Wisconsin is just as bad off as California, which is on the brink of insolvency.

The report said Wisconsinites can expect even fewer social services, higher college tuition, and more state employee furloughs at the very least.

And if Wisconsin and similar states resort to more tax increases or big spending cuts, it could threaten the nation's ability to climb out of the recession.

The Pew report cited Wisconsin's loss of 140,000 jobs and one-eighth of its factory work, an 11 percent annual drop in tax collections in the first quarter of the year, and poor budget decisions that include the raiding of specialized funds to keep the general ship afloat.

But state administration secretary Michael Morgan said Wisconsin's no worse off than others, and the state's plight was over-dramatized because it had relatively low unemployment rate before the recession.

Bob Lang of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says tax collections are meeting the budget, the state's paying its bills, and our situation is not as dire as California's.

Still, a $2 billion deficit looms in the next budget.

And Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, says the state's current spending growth in unsustainable, given the fact that the economy's still going the other way.