No burst of additional money for Wisconsin budget

Capitol in Madison

MADISON — There will be no burst of new money for Wisconsin lawmakers writing the state budget.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported Wednesday, May 10th that it was not going to update its previous estimates for tax collections over the next two years. That means lawmakers will have to balance the budget based on the numbers they were given in January.

Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesman said the news reaffirms the governor’s position against any tax increases to help balance the budget. Assembly Republicans last week floated a sweeping, complex plan to rewrite the state’s income tax code and change how gasoline is taxed to plug a shortfall in road funding. Walker opposed the plan, which he said would result in a $433 million tax increase on gas.

“This is no time to be raising taxes on the people of Wisconsin,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said Wednesday.

While higher revenue projections would have given lawmakers writing the budget more money to spend or direct toward tax cuts, budget committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren heralded the news.

In a message on Twitter, he called the Wisconsin revenue “great news” compared to the downturns many other states have experienced.

Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a member of the budget committee, said the numbers are not a good sign for the economy.

“You’d like to see more growth in the economy and see the numbers going up,” he said.

Fiscal Bureau director Bob Lang said in a letter to Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling, the other Joint Finance Committee co-chair, that the January estimates “are still reasonable and should not be adjusted.”

Those estimates projected tax collection growth of 2.7 percent for the current fiscal year, which ends in June, over the previous one. To date, collections are about 2.2 percent higher than the previous year, Lang said.

National forecasts and other economic indicators are also consistent from previous ones in January, negating the need to make any changes to tax collection estimates, Lang wrote.