Wisconsin revenue grows $500 million more than expected

2013-05-10T09:30:00Z Wisconsin revenue grows $500 million more than expectedMARY SPICUZZA | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6122 Journal Times

New estimates showing Wisconsin taking in about $500 million more than expected through June 2015 have triggered a frenzied debate among lawmakers about how much of the additional money should go toward public schools and tax cuts.

“We’re not going to be spending it willy-nilly. We’re going to do due diligence,” said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, co-chairwoman of the Legislature’s powerful budget committee. “So it’s good news today, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to celebrate and go off to a spending binge.”

The improved revenue projections, released Thursday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, brought immediate calls from Gov. Scott Walker, some of his fellow Republicans and Democrats to put more money toward schools.

But while many lawmakers agreed education should be a priority, Republicans also called for deeper tax cuts and boosting state reserves while Democrats stressed focusing on public schools and worker training programs.

Walker said the projections show “our sound fiscal management means we can continue to invest in our priorities while protecting taxpayers.”

Improved estimates are projected to result in an approximately $525 million net balance by June 2015, the fiscal bureau said.

“The surplus and increased revenue projections should be invested in aid for our schools, lowering income taxes for middle-class families, holding the line on property taxes, and building our rainy day fund,” Walker said in a statement.

The fiscal bureau projected that general fund tax revenues would be higher than previous estimates by $215 million in the fiscal year that ends June 30. By law, half would need to go toward the state’s rainy day fund.

The new figures came as lawmakers continued to debate Walker’s proposed $68 billion budget for 2013-15, which includes about $30.5 billion in state spending over two years. Once the budget committee completes its work, the legislation will be considered by each chamber. Lawmakers hope to pass a final budget by June 30.

School funding paramount

Assembly Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee said Thursday they would like to increase funding for schools by $100 per student.

“We have listened to the citizens that spoke out during public hearings throughout Wisconsin and to our colleagues,” said Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chairman of the committee.

A joint statement by Assembly Republicans on the committee also said they wanted to give Wisconsin taxpayers a deeper income tax cut and they remained committed to the expansion of school voucher programs.

Some Senate Republicans have called for a bigger increase in school spending — as high as $200 per student.

On Thursday, Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said the increase should be $275 per student, and also called for some of the money to be used on worker training programs.

She and other Democrats said the money could start restoring education funding in the wake of steep cuts Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature made in the current budget.

Walker’s spending proposal would increase state aid to schools by $129 million for 2013-15, but it caps overall state and local tax spending on schools at this year’s level. So the additional money would effectively lower property taxes rather than fund school programs.

Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said all of the additional money could be used for public schools.

“The call to reinvest in public education is getting louder as communities begin to understand the devastating impact the governor’s proposed budget will have on neighborhood public schools,” Bell said in a statement. “Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for lawmakers to answer that call.”

But Republicans made it clear education was not the only priority.

“Our promise is to give Wisconsin taxpayers the largest possible income tax cut that we can afford,” said Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield.

Darling and Nygren said they didn’t have a specific dollar amount for how much more income taxes may be cut. Walker’s budget initially proposed a $343 million cut, which would likely mean a cut of about $83 a year for the average taxpayer.

The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group committed to limited government and free markets, called for “substantial tax relief.”

“Now the Legislature needs to do the right thing and give the money back to the people who have worked so hard, the taxpayers,” said Luke Hilgemann, state director of AFP-Wisconsin.

Darling said she hoped to look for ways to improve education, lower taxes, prevent a structural deficit and reduce bonding.

“I think we have to really take a deep breath. It’s just like if you won the lottery,” Darling said. “I think most people would say, ‘You know, what is the best way to invest that money?’”

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Urban Pioneer
    Report Abuse
    Urban Pioneer - May 10, 2013 12:17 pm
    I have read reports from 500 million to 575 Million dollars in PROJECTED surplus..and of course for the next 2 years it'll be raised or lowered based upon ACTUAL returns. The number today is a PROJECTION. I propose we cut INCOME taxes across the board with half of the money..and put the other half into infrastructure improvements. Specifically speed up the Zoo interchange project and the southern extension of 794 into Racine County. If the future shows another surplus as we move forward continue with the same pattern: half in reduced income taxes, the other into infrastructure. The goal should be to eliminate the State Income tax as quickly as will draw more people into our state for jobs and growing our businesses.
  2. sportnut
    Report Abuse
    sportnut - May 10, 2013 10:13 am

    Just you wait---that "bum" Wallker and his "water boy" Vos will get their hands on all this extra money and hand it out to the wealthy donors who contributed to his dirty campaign. The poor and the children of this state mean absolutely nothing to him or Vos so they will only get something if there is anything left over after giving most to the wealthy and the crazy tea party goons. This state is in serious trouble with the crooks we have in power now. They need an education on the facts as do their followers who would jump off the cliff with Walker if he tells them to!!!!
  3. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - May 10, 2013 8:43 am
    May 9, 2013 from USA Today: Local governments' woes add to economic worries

    State and local governments cut another 3,000 workers in April, even as the economy added 165,000 jobs in all — that's adding to concerns that the economy could slow at midyear as the federal sequestration cuts begin to bite. That's especially true since budget-stressed states such as Illinois expect to add few if any jobs, said Abdon Pallasch, assistant budget director for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

    "I am surprised that state and local government spending is still declining on a real basis,'' Zandi said.

    States are reluctant to begin hiring again because inflation-adjusted revenues are still below 2008 levels — even though populations are bigger, and obligations for Medicaid and pensions are eating up more of the budgets,...

    Illinois is a good example. Quinn's budget calls for expanding the state workforce, now about 52,250 and down from nearly 70,000 a decade ago, to just 53,172 next year. Pallasch said one major reason is that pension expenses are "gobbling up every dollar,'' with pension spending set to rise by nearly half from 2012 through 2014.

    Meanwhile in Detroit (Racine's Big Brother):

    Detroit's financial picture worse than thought Emergency manager says he doesn't rule out bankruptcy for troubled city!

    (CBS News) Detroit’s emergency manager says the city is bleeding much more red ink than originally thought. That’s what Kevyn Orr told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

    “The situation is severe,” Orr said. “It’s worse that we originally thought. It ain’t good.”

    LAYOFFS hit the New York Post!

    The Daily News is now undergoing what employees of the tabloid have been fearing for weeks: Multiple insiders tell Capital that layoffs have hit the newsroom today.

    Several sources put the total number of pink slips at around 15.


    Snotty Scotty forgot that you shouldn't count your chickens before they are hatched!
  4. mt_pleasantly
    Report Abuse
    mt_pleasantly - May 10, 2013 6:25 am
    Just don't let the WEDC get its hands on the cash.
  5. Epistemic Circularity
    Report Abuse
    Epistemic Circularity - May 09, 2013 9:22 pm
    I think the blame is more closely linked to the generational gap of moving on from manufacturing to a more service oriented state or country. It does not mean manufacturing is dead it will just be different.
  6. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - May 09, 2013 3:36 pm
    This story is only 4 hours old and Scotty has already lost $100,000 of the $600,000 he doesn't have!

    In a splash of spring sunshine, new projections released Thursday show the state will take in more than $500 million more than expected over the next two years.

    It will be different this time..... LOL.!page=6&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst
  7. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - May 09, 2013 2:41 pm
    He is telling the facts and cites the source
  8. Shari
    Report Abuse
    Shari - May 09, 2013 1:41 pm
    do you ever have a positive thing to say?
  9. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - May 09, 2013 12:45 pm
    New projections released Thursday morning show state revenue growing by nearly $600 million more than expected through June 2015.

    New Projections - Walker is getting really desperate here.

    Those jobs haven't materialized - and manufacturers continue to leave the State.

    Light out manufacturing and robotics are replacing millions of workers.

    Daily Job Cuts shows the truth -

    BAU is over. Dream on.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Featured Racine-area Businesses

TOTAL FURNITURE Open four to save you more!

Total Furniture is SE Wisconsin's #1 furniture store for value, customer service and selection! Open Friday…

Society's Assets - Racine, WI

Society's Assets - Racine, WI

Established in 1974, Society's Assets is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable i…

Business Offer

Unger Eye Oak Creek: 5 Star Review for Unger Eye MD SC by Dick S.

Unger Eye Oak Creek: 5 Star Review for Unger Eye MD SC by Dick S.

(414) 570-2020 Unger Eye MD SC Oak Creek reviews5 Star ReviewDr. Unger is probably not only …

Business Offer

Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home - Racine, WI

Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home - Racine, WI


Business Offer


See more polls

Who will win the NBA playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls?

View Results