September 1, 2014

State revenue projections grow by more than $500 million

Wisconsin could collect over a half a billion dollars more in tax revenues over the next two years than previously expected, according to figures released Thursday by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The numbers include an additional $215 million from the current fiscal year, and $360 million over the next biennium.

Republicans hailed the improved projections as a sign that their reforms are helping to improve the state’s economy, while indicating the additional revenue could be directed towards increasing education funding and tax relief.

In a statement, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said “this will allow us to invest more in our top priorities: reducing taxes and reforming education. I look forward to working with my colleagues to expand our tax cuts and provide additional resources for K-12 education.”

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) also indicated that she hopes the money can be used to “improve educational opportunities for our children, lower the tax burden on our citizens and businesses, and prevent a structural deficit.”

Governor Scott Walker, also in a statement, 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.”

Democrats say the surplus should be directed towards public education, in order to make up for cuts and revenue caps imposed under the last state budget. Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said that “while the additional $500 million only covers a portion of the largest cut to our public schools in Wisconsin’s history, it’s a significant improvement over the $0 increase per student that Governor Walker’s budget proposed.”

The news comes as lawmakers continue work on Governor Walker’s proposed two year budget plan.