Wisconsin Republican Budget Chiefs Insist Latest Surplus Numbers Don’t Give Governor ‘Blank Check’

by Benjamin Yount


The Republicans who will write Wisconsin’s next state budget say Gov. Tony Evers shouldn’t get excited about the latest surplus numbers.

The Department of Administration on Monday said Wisconsin’s budget surplus could top $6.6 billion by the time the current state budget ends in June.

DOA also said it expects $1.5 billion in new revenue growth during the next state budget. That means Wisconsin’s main account fund balance could be as high as $8.4 billion by the end of the first year of the next state budget in 2024, and be as high as $9.7 billion by the end of the second year of the next state budget in 2025.

Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, on Monday said just because the state has more money doesn’t mean lawmakers need to spend it.

“While we have a record-setting projected general fund balance, we must be mindful that the surplus is due, in part, to a massive increase in tax collections. This is not good news for taxpayers,” Born and Marklein said in a statement.

Gov. Evers on Monday said the latest numbers show Wisconsin continues to be in good shape.

“Wisconsin is currently in the strongest financial position we’ve ever been with unemployment at historic lows and a strong pandemic recovery that has helped new businesses open on Main Streets in every county,” Gov. Evers said.

The governor has suggested spending some of the surplus.

The agencies under his control have suggested over $3.5 billion in new spending in their budget requests to the governor’s office.

Born and Marklein say that’s almost certainly not going to happen.

“The projected balance does not give the Governor a blank check as he puts together his budget proposal. Instead, it gives us flexibility to fund the programs and agencies that are necessary for prosperity in Wisconsin while cutting taxes to benefit all Wisconsin taxpayers,” the Republican said.

Born, Marklein, and the rest of the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee will begin writing the state’s new budget when they return to the Capitol after the New Year.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Tony Evers” by Campaign of Tony Evers for Governor. CC BY 3.0. Backgound Photo “Wisconsin State Capitol” by Vijay Kumar Koulampet. CC BY-SA 3.0.


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