State budget agency requests would create $2.2 billion deficit

Spending requests are for next 2 years
State budget agency requests would create $2.2 billion deficit

A first look at the state budget picture for the next two years shows the state could face a potential $2.2 billion shortfall if all state agency requests are granted.

The numbers released by the Walker administration as required by state law Thursday show that agency requests outpace expected revenue by $2.2 billion.

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said it is a “flawed assumption” that all of those requests will be granted.

Numbers also show the state ending this fiscal year in July with a negative $132 million balance. In the document, Huebsch said that the state will turn that number into a $65 million surplus to start the 2015 fiscal year, but doesn’t explain how the state plans to cut some $200 million in the next six months other than to say they will use “prudent fiscal management.”

“Governors tell their agency heads they can’t fill positions, they can’t travel out of state, they have to postpone some expenditures they have some ability to postpone,” Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry said about the potential ways the state could cut the budget.

Berry said the projected deficit is likely in part because of tax cuts enacted by lawmakers coming online in the last year.

Democrats are already attacking the deficit projection figures.

“The slash-and-burn approach to budgeting over the past four years clearly hasn’t worked,” Sen. Jennfier Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a statement Thursday.

Republicans point out that the number is only based on a wish list by agency heads.

“The reality is that’s not going to happen,” Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “We will continue to manage the state’s finances by making prudent decisions and doing what’s best for Wisconsin and its taxpayers.”

The Walker administration pointed out in its report that the numbers are estimates and subject to change.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau will publish their look at the numbers sometime in January before the governor introduces his next budget.