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EDITORIAL: When it comes to state budget, no bulls in china shop

Mike Huebsch, secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Administration, stopped by the New Richmond News office on Tuesday morning.

He'd driven from Wausau during the height of a powerful snowstorm to deliver a message to western Wisconsin residents. He could have stopped short of his destination when the driving got tough, but Huebsch persevered.

The message he brought? Huebsch, like Gov. Scott Walker, is passionate about the financial stability of Wisconsin. The priorities outlined in Walker's proposed budget show that officials are committed to ensuring the long-term financial strength of state, Huebsch said.

You have to give the governor and his cabinet members credit for sticking to their guns when it comes to balancing the state budget. Their message hasn't wavered much since taking office more than two years ago.

What has changed, however, is the feeling that Gov. Walker was sort of a bull in a china shop when it came to state cuts. Whether the perception was fair or not, Walker's first couple years in office were rife with contentious moments that left a bad taste in many Wisconsinites' mouths.

This time around, with his budget proposal and the public relations efforts that have followed, Gov. Walker and his staff seem to have learned a valuable lesson. Even if you think you're right, you should never leave the impression that you're shoving something unpleasant down the voting public's throat.

Budgets should be thoughtful documents that leave room for debate and compromise. Budgets shouldn't send a message that it's "my way or the highway," because priorities could possibly shift as politicians and your average Joe residents begin to discuss the future direction of the state.

We applaud the governor and his staff for working hard to explain what they are proposing and how they plan on achieving their budgetary goals. After delivering their message, it should be time to sit back and listen as the people and their elected representatives have a chance to react and provide input.