The latest fiscal analysis shows that Wisconsin state government will end the current two-year budget cycle with a balance short of previous estimates. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau projects that the state’s closing. net general fund balance as of June 30, 2017 will be $70.2 million.
While that may sound like a lot when compared to the typical household budget, it’s actually a drop of $94.3 million from the estimated $164.5 million prior to the LFB review.
The agency, in a letter to the co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, reports that much of the reduction can be attributed to a $158 million dollar drop in estimated tax collections.
“Governor Walker, in his State of the State speech, kind of reassured the public that the budget’s balanced and finances are strong, and I don’t feel as good after seeing the revenue report today,” said state Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), who serves on the finance committee.
“I don’t see any need for really concern,” said committee co-chair, Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette). ” We’re hitting budget. I would actually say we’re on pretty solid ground, especially when you consider where we’ve come from over the past five to six years.”
The state can also fall back on the rainy day fund, which Walker highlighted during Tuesday night’s State of the State address. That fund currently contains some $280 million.
“If we do have a severe down tick in the national economy, it doesn’t give us much room for error,” said Hintz. “It would be premature to think that we’re going to have to take any budget moves at this point, but I don’t see how anybody can look at today’s numbers and think that it’s a positive. It’s definitely a cautionary flag and something we’re going to have to monitor closely over the next 18 months.”
“One of the main reasons for the reduction in revenue from the last estimate to today has to do with more money staying in taxpayers’ pockets, and I would actually say that’s a good thing,” said Nygren. “Keeping more money in their pockets should be our primary objective.”