Wisconsin projected to have record surplus by next summer

Republican Joint Finance Committee Co-chairs Mark Born and Howard Marklein
Co-chairs Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, preside over a meeting of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance.

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s budget surplus is projected to be nearly $6.6 billion by the end of the fiscal year next June according to a new report released by the Department of Administration Monday.

The figure is higher than the $5 billion surplus that was initially projected by the state and is on top of the $1.7 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.

The report notes that while the current budget provided $1 billion in income tax relief to Wisconsinites, state tax revenues increased over the last fiscal year by nearly the same amount.

The Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing committee said that the Republican budgets over the past 12 years were responsible for putting the state in good financial position.

“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,” Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said in a statement.

“The projected balance does not give the Governor a blank check as he puts together his budget proposal,” the legislators added. “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.”

Gov. Tony Evers applauded the additional funds, saying in a statement that the state is currently in the strongest financial position it has ever been in.

“We’re working hard to build an economy that works for everyone, and this unprecedented surplus presents an unprecedented opportunity to make critical investments in Wisconsinites and the future of our state,” Evers said.

The governor has pushed Republicans this past cycle to invest more funds into schools and state aid that would go toward municipalities. The past two budget cycles, Evers has presented Republicans with a framework for the state budget, which they have largely ignored to write their own.

In their statement, the Republican chairs of the budget-writing committee indicated they would want to see the surplus include tax cuts for Wisconsinites.

In addition to the projected surplus by the end of next June, DOA projects additional surpluses of $8.4 and $9.8 billion the following two fiscal years.

“Our financial outlook is strong,” said DOA Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld.

This article was updated to clarify the quote from co-chairs Born and Marklein.