Plans for Wisconsin’s $800 Million Surplus

The Surplus

This past month, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a non-partisan state entity, revealed that the state of Wisconsin has a little over $800 million in extra tax revenue than what was originally budgeted. State law requires that half of the $818 million must go into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, which is Wisconsin’s “rainy day fund” that is used in times of emergency or recession. The other half goes into the state’s general fund. Projections have shown that Wisconsin is expected to end the biennium with a general fund balance of about $620 billion, which is significantly more than what was projected when the 2019-21 budget was initially enacted. Due to this large amount of funding likely to be available, representatives in the legislature and Governor Evers have been looking into different ways to spend this extra money to benefit the state.

It is important to note that these numbers are projected estimates, so there is a chance they could go up or down if there are economic changes prior to the end of this budget cycle in June 2021.

Conflicting Ideas

 Republicans in the legislature have determined that they would like to use the funds for tax relief in Wisconsin, but they have been unable to determine a concrete plan for this so far. Leadership for the Republicans have indicated that cuts to property or income taxes would be likely to happen, but there is a chance that some money could be distributed toward paying down the state debt. Until Republicans come up with a unified proposal, it is unlikely that anything will be done with this extra money in the general fund.

Democrats in the legislature have said that their support of a Republican tax cut plan would depend on what the plan actually entails, but they are primarily supportive of the governor’s plan.

The Governor’s Plan

The Governor has called a special session on the $800 million surplus to determine how the extra money should be spent. This comes after he unveiled his plan earlier this week for how the money should be spent. Governor Evers has called on lawmakers to spend $250 million to improve K-12 funding through school-based mental health services and special education aid in school districts across the state. Additionally, he has proposed to use $130 million of the funds for property tax relief through Wisconsin’s equalization aid formula.

Many in the Republican-led legislature are opposed to this plan, and the Assembly and Senate are expected to gavel in and out of the special session, as they have for every special session Governor Evers has called thus far. Republican leaders have said that they are looking for “larger scale tax relief” compared to Evers’ plan.

How would you like to see this money used?

If you would like to contact our area representatives to let them know how you would like to see this money spent, here is their contact information.

Senator Jennifer Shilling                                                    

Representative Jill Billings

Representative Steve Doyle

Representative Loren Oldenburg

Representative Nancy VanderMeer