A new report says no additional revenue is expected to help lawmakers craft Wisconsin’s two-year state budget.
The memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says there is no need to adjust revenue estimates it released earlier this year, which projected tax revenue growth of 3.7 percent for 2013-14. While LFB director Bob Lang indicated tax collections for this year may exceed projections, forecasts in the national economy have been downgraded. As a result, slower growth over the next two years will likely offset any bump.
The news comes as a big hit to Republicans, who had been banking on improved revenue estimates to help undo some of the cuts to education included in Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget. Those include a $300 million reduction for the University of Wisconsin System and a $127 million cut to public schools.
Democrats on the budget-writing panel were quick to criticize the revelation that no additional revenue is expected. Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) said Republicans have been “promising pots of gold at the end of the rainbow – the magic money the GOP was counting on is not there,” while Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) argued the numbers are a sign “Republicans need to simply start over.”
In a statement, Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said “Wisconsin will end the biennium with a balanced budget and our proposed budget will result a near $500 million surplus. In the next couple months, we will continue to work with legislative leaders to protect public school funding and ensure it remains whole.”
In a joint statement, Finance Committee co-chairs Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) noted that the report shows that Wisconsin’s economy is continuing to grow, despite a troubled national economic forecast. Both pledged that “ss we move forward with the budget process, we will remain dedicated to investing in public education, protecting taxpayers, and growing our state’s workforce.”