State officials may have a tough time dealing with a projected shortfall in state revenues.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau is predicting state revenues could be up to $400 million short over the next 17 months. Todd Berry with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says it's not a surprise, with prediction of an economic slow down coming for months.
Berry says the state is poorly equipped to deal with the problem because of limited reserves. He says the state budget approved last year left very little room to deal with potential problems such as this, unlike other states who build more of a cushion into their budgets.
How will Wisconsin deal with a shortfall? Berry says the state will have to either find new revenue sources or cut programs. The most likely cuts he sees are new programs included in the last state budget, which have not started yet. Berry says those could be delayed to help ease the burden on the state.
Berry says lawmakers should avoid raiding other state funds to make up for the missing revenue. He says that leads to more shortfalls down the road or could result in lawsuits, such as one by doctors over a raid in the state's patient compensation fund.
The revenue projections from the LFB are preliminary. In a letter to lawmakers, Director Bob Lang says he will wait until early February for final figures, to make sure the numbers are as accurate as possible.