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Now that’s better: WI ends fiscal year with $760 million surplus

By   /   October 14, 2013  /   6 Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – Better than expected.

That’s been the story of state revenue and surplus in Wisconsin over the past year and a half.

An improving economy has pushed the state’s surplus up to $759.2 million, according to the Wisconsin Department of Administration State Controller’s Office’s Annual Fiscal Report released Monday.  That’s up nearly $90 million from the last budget estimate earlier this year, and an increase of $274.5 million higher than the $484.7 million projected in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s 2013 re-estimates in January.

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BOOM: A new report shows Wisconsin’s budget balance tops $759 million, significantly better than expected.

Word of the better-than expected balance, which doesn’t take into account the hundreds of millions of dollars in state structural debt, follows on the heels of last week’s announcement of a proposed $100 million property tax cut, pitched by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders.

The Legislature is scheduled to take up the bill on Tuesday and, thanks to the higher balance, the measure is expected to draw bipartisan support. The tax cut would shave about $13 off the median tax bill in Wisconsin.

“When we took office two years ago, we said we would be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and this report shows we’re on the right track,” Walker said in a statement.

What a difference a couple of years make. When Walker took office in early 2011, the state faced a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

Democrats on Tuesday continued to blame Walker for the budget surplus, charging that the $759.2 million balance was the result of draconian cuts to the state’s public education budget. But Democratic leadership signaled they would probably support the property tax cut.

Walker said the Republicans’ “tough, but prudent, decisions are paying off for Wisconsin families.”

A bigger balance means $153.2 million more into the state’s rainy day fund, amounting to a total of $278.5 million in a reserve that was decimated during the Great Recession years.

“Our latest deposit of $153 million into the state’s rainy day fund is the largest in state history, and the $278 million balance of the fund is also the largest ever,” Walker noted.

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.

  • Dan

    Great, and every cent of it should go toward paying down the debt that made this surplus a “reality”.

  • ScottinVA

    Well now… aren’t you Badger Staters glad you didn’t successfully recall Gov. Walker?

  • Joe Erato

    If your so against debt that must mean you REALLY hated the last group to run the show and the person trying to recall walker. As well as every president for the last decade……….

  • REDJI

    Now you see how things run when the Commies are not in charge…….When is this Country going to wake up?

  • Dan

    You’re reading a bit into my previous post. If we have debt, it should be paid off with any “surplus”. It’s great that there is some money left over; it’s not great that the state borrowed long-term money in order to make that happen.

    So let’s do something to reduce previous – and current – borrowing, and a so-called surplus would seem to be a good place to get the money. Just about any financial adviser worthy of the name would recommend the same.

  • Dan Journeaux

    put that money back in the schools where its needed

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