Wisconsin's budget picture brightened Thursday, with new estimates that show a surplus will grow to $484 million, giving Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker even more room to pursue their tax cutting agenda.

The estimate from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau was nearly $137 million better than one Walker's administration released in November. The numbers will be used by Walker as he puts the final touches on his two-year spending plan, which he's set to unveil on Feb. 20.

While the bottom line for the current fiscal year that ends June 30 showed improvement, the report projected that tax collections through June 30, 2015, will actually be $259 million less than what Walker's administration predicted. The bulk of that, $219 million, is due primarily to the fact that Walker assumed in November that Congress would restore the estate tax, the Fiscal Bureau said in its report. That did not happen as part of the deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Still, Walker and Republican legislative leaders touted the positive news in the report about the larger surplus for this fiscal year.

In 2011, Walker took office facing a roughly $3 billion budget shortfall and attacked the problem with deep cuts to education, local governments and other programs. He also forced public workers to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, and effectively ended workers' collective bargaining rights, leading to an unsuccessful attempt to recall him last year.

The surplus this time makes it easier for Walker and Republicans to follow through on their promises to cut income taxes while also increasing spending on K-12 schools.

Walker said Tuesday that he thought state income taxes could be cut by about $340 million, and that it would amount to a roughly $200 savings per household over the next two fiscal years. Details were still being worked out, he said.

Walker said in a statement Thursday that the larger surplus "will allow hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers to keep more of the money they earn because I plan to move forward with an income tax cut targeting the middle class."

Democrats have been generally supportive of an income tax cut, as long as it's targeted at the middle class. Democratic state Rep. Jon Richards, a member of the Legislature's budget committee, said the higher surplus provides an opportunity not only for the tax cut but also to bolster funding in a number of areas slashed in Walker's previous budget, including job training and education.

There are many other areas vying for the extra money. A task force created by Walker and the Republican Legislature in 2011 on Wednesday recommended $480 million in annual tax increases to pay for transportation needs across the state, including road construction and repair.

Walker and Republican leaders have rejected outright the proposed gas tax and registration fee increases. Walker instead has said he would favor tapping the state's general fund, which would be easier to do given Thursday's sunnier revenue projections.

Walker has also pledged to create a venture capital fund to spur job growth and help startup companies, and to put more money into education that is tied to how well school districts perform. The $484 million projected surplus is on top of another $125 million the state has set aside in its rainy day fund, which could also be tapped for one-time spending.

The $136 million difference between the November report and Thursday is due to a $37 million increase in tax collections for the current fiscal year, a $35 million increase in departmental revenues and a $64 million drop in state expenses.

The Fiscal Bureau projects a 2.1 percent increase in tax collections this year, followed by a 2.4 percent increase the first year of the new budget and 3.6 percent the year after that.

Republican co-chairs of the Legislature's budget committee issued a joint statement saying the numbers show the state's economy is improving.

"As we advance our work on the budget we will continue our aggressive pro-jobs agenda and focus on tax relief for our middle-class families," said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

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(109) comments

tedvoth jr
tedvoth jr

Goody! Lotsa money for his corporate overlords!

eclectic

It is really so simple. There is a little extra money available. Should it be returned to the people who overpaid (the taxpayers) or should it be given to the people who think they were underpaid (public employees)?

gman

Perhaps the money could be used to pay off the restructured debt that you extended when you "fixed" the budget in to later years .

schlemiel

So does that mean all the public employees who have had pay cuts in the forms of furlough and higher contribution to benefits will get a cost of living raise?

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

@Fur94,

From your tone and judging by our previous Madison.com community on-line chats, you seem to be a rational, thoughtful and well-measured woman. Found far too rarely in this day and age of hyper-partisanship and vitriolic zealotry.

Therefore, I'm not sure why you'd disagree with me thinking that one of the most moral and ethical things for the government to do with our surplus money would be to return it to us. The other responsible thing to do with it would be to pay down our debt.

There are many good folks right here at home that could use the money and spend it more wisely than yet another bloated government bureaucracy. You see, I'm all for freedom.

I think, however, you're being too sensitive. Far from being foolish, you, rooting for the home team, the good guys, our own families, neighbors, communities, state and country is imdicative only of good common sense.

To paraphrase John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, "The purpose of religion is to love God and each other as ourselves, if this were accomplished, civil law would have little to do."

We might agree more than you think. Thanks for the civil discourse.

Grace and Peace, Veritas vos liberabit.

Good Dog. Happy Man.


Fur94

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN,

I think part of my disagreement is that it seems to imply the government or taxes are by nature immoral or unethical. I don't believe that. I think moral and ethical people will govern and tax that way, as will the opposite. There are aspects of government that will tempt people, but these exist in any social structure. Bosses, landlords, priests, etc can all be unethical and immoral. One good thing, is our democratic form of government gives us more of a say in preventing that, then we have in other structures.

But keeping it in check is a big responsibility. We have to elect people that will tell us both the good news and the bad news, and we have to call them out when they mislead us. The unethical people are the ones that say everything is great, or that all of the problems are due to some group, and we have to be careful to not let these people have power. The message we are getting about the surplus should raise some eyebrows.

Also, lines about taxes being "stealing" or that tax cuts are "moral" are often used by people of questionable ethics themselves. They are very emotional words and are used to appeal to your heart instead of your brain. They are also used by people to imply they have those characteristics when they don't. It's marketing. "Crazy" TV Lenny wasn't really giving you "insanely" low prices. Of course some moral people can honestly believe the things in their heart, but they should also pause and think about the claim. A tax cut can easily be used much more immorally by someone than the government service that got cut, it all depends on the person vs the politician.

So I think my disagreement is with the terms "moral" and "ethical." I think a tax cut could be many other things, including beneficial, but I don't think this is one of those times. There are plenty of things the state needs to address, and the private sector or religious groups are not able or willing to take them on. If anything, pretending that the state has extra money is a little unethical.

samster

Hope this surplus is true BUT I don't trust one word out of Walker's mouth. I am more inclined to believe we still have tons of debt. No doubt what we have are loans which in all actuallity would remove from plenty from our so called surplus.More likely Just another BS politician spin.

JohnGalt2016

More bad news for the Public Sector Parasites. Thanks again America's Guv.

samster

You best go apply for some of these public sector jobs that you look down on with so much disdain. There are going to be LOTS more openings. There needs to be prison guards ect.. Who the hell would do this job for 14 bucks an hour or whatever they start at? Whatever the starting pay is ,when do they get a raise? I suggest to any and all who are considering these jobs - go to school, learn and do something else.There is no future in Wi. State employment.

Hogzilla
Hogzilla

Have fun in the private sector!

array1

Firefighters, Teachers, Researchers, Police, your neighbor........

MorningW

Financial surplus or moral deficit?

2 things that really stood out to me most about this article/comments:

1) NOBODY makes mention of the thousands of lives AND livelihood that were negatively impacted (and continue to be) by these "deep cuts to education, local governments and OTHER programs" made by the Governor's office.

2) Explain to me how the Governor's office can say the focus can now be on tax CUTS yet according to this article over the next few years Wisconsin is projected to gain more of a surplus from "a 2.1 percent INCREASE in tax collections this year, followed by a 2.4 percent INCREASE the first year of the new budget and 3.6 percent the year after that." AND "A task force created by Walker and the Republican Legislature in 2011 on Wednesday recommended $480 million in annual TAX INCREASES to pay for transportation needs across the state"

It may be true that numbers don't lie BUT they can be manipulated, they have the power to desensitize people AND they NEVER potray the whole scope of the issues.

PapaLorax

the increase in collections is from more people working and paying taxes.

how can you say nobody is talking about the people affected by Walker's budget? It's all I continue to hear about...still.

They didn't say an individual's taxes would increase by 2.1, 2.4, or 3.6 %. That is overall tax revenues because they are projecting that at some point our economy will grow a bit. The transportation increases you describe are over 10 years, so it's merely $48 million more /yr that they feel they need. Remember when our good friend Gov Doyle raided the trans budget to fill holes because he had no idea how to budget or say no to spending, or the unions? Walker is fixing all of the above.

Big_Joe

Love all the squealing and denial.

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

@Big_Joe,

The proggy paleo-lib gray pony-tailed Makistanis probably have their hempen homespun undies in a bundle. Like the truth, it can't be comfortable for them. (Hat-tip,@The Gotch )

Good Dog, Happy Man

uspotme
uspotme

I live by the tenet "If it sounds to good to be true it probably isn't true". Think about it for a minute. In two years we have gone from three billion in the hole to a surplus of 484 million dollars. Wow that's a 3.5 billion dollar turn around in two years. You can look at two ways. Either Walker is miracle worker or he lied about Wisconsin being broke. I would like to see how these numbers come into existence. I'm very skeptical.


PapaLorax

The $3.5 was if we kept on the spending pace that Doyle had layed out. It wasn't a cash deficit (that was a couple hundred million and why he had to pass a Budget Repair Bill - which is fairly common because projections are often off by a little).

So your choices are - claim he cut a billion from education and accept that we had a 3 billion dollar structural deficit.

or

Give him credit for writing a budget based on projected collections without raising taxes.

PennyWise

You are incorrect Lorax. The $3.5 is a reality, not a spending pace. The reported deficit to the Feds is now $3 Bn. That is not a number they gave the government IF we keep going this way.

PapaLorax

You are confusing the GAAP deficit and the structural deficit when Walker took office. It would be helpful if we had media that actually understands what the difference is.

GAAP reduce from $2.9B to 2.2B under Walker

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/kooyenga/pressreleases/Pages/Gov.%20Walker%20and%20Wisconsin%20GOP%20Used%20GAAP%20Success%20in%20Paying%20Down%20$783%20Million%20in%20Inherited%20GAAP%20Deficit.aspx

The structural deficit is the simple calculation - if we don't change anything in the budget and continue doing what we are doing...how short would we be?

powmda

Do you remember when Diamond Jim Doyle dropped a two plus billion dollar deficit on us, even with his increaed taxes? Hmmmm? The state is doing far better than when the Dems were in power. Walker was elected to undo the damage caused by the Doylies. He is doing a good job, despite what the folks in the Madison area may think. And, thoe of us who are out-state voters will continue to support him!

TS78

Didn't Doyle walk into a $3.2B deficit left by ol'Tommy boy? But I think that was under a GAAP report. So that too could be wrong. If not wrong, what you're saying is that Doyle was reducing our deficit?

Harvey

Reminds me of a discussion I had with a conservative woman not too long ago. She kept saying we needed numbers people in the government to reduce the debt. I asked her why conservatives are so very very concerned about the debt we will leave our children but when it comes to the quality of air they will breath, water they will drink and food they will eat. . .not so much. She began to cry and said BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT HAVE ANY MONEY!!!

Harvey

If having the surplus is so great how come I don't feel safer? How come I can't eat the fish I catch? How come there are so many unhealthy air days in the summer? How come my health care is not better? How come the pot holes are not being fixed? How come our schools are not better? The surplus is growing while the quality of life is declining.

Fur94

I do think this is good news, but I also agree with many of the posters below. I don't think the surplus means we should do a tax cut. We still have a lot of long term debt, the rainy day fund is quite low, and there were many important services that were cut which should be restored. I think the state would benefit much more from addressing these issues.

One other thing to note, is Wisconsin is not alone in having a surplus. 27 states were expected to do so as of the end of last year:
http://www.businessinsider.com/27-states-project-budget-surplus-by-the-end-of-the-year-2012-6

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

Why does good news for the citizens of our great state, i.e., having a budget surplus, received as such bad news for the low-information proggy paleo-lib Makistani?

How about rooting for the good guys once in a while, you liberal lockstep lemmings ? !!!

Right-to-work legislation should be drafted as soon as the mine bill is passed. We are not only in a global economy, but compete in a regional economy, as well.

Occupy reality. Let's get some jobs for the good people of Wisconsin.

Woofda !!!

Fur94

Our definitions of low-information probably differ. Personally, I think accepting data or talking points, republican or democrat, without asking questions is a big part of how I would define it.

You may have missed it, but I started my post by stating that a surplus is a good thing, but I am not easily wooed by it. The good news didn't come out of nowhere, without other effects, and you have to look at the whole picture to evaluate it. If Obama was to create a federal surplus by eliminating the department of defense, I highly doubt you would call it "good news."

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

@Fur94,

Of course one needs to look at the big picture over a period of time to evaluate whether a process is working. And at what cost.

One over-looked fact is that all the money the government has belongs to "We the People". How does the government get it?

It taxes us, it borrows from other nations and ourselves (issues bonds) and it prints it. The government has NO money of its' own.

They govern by the consent of the governed.

Once that is clearly perceived and agreed to, we can then more clearly define the problem and propose solutions.

The moral and ethical thing to do would be to return the money to the owners, again, " We the People".

The low-information voter sees his/her tax refund as coming from Obama's stash or from Uncle Sugar. They see it as free money rather that they paid too much in taxes.

For myself, I would consent to direct my "fair share" go to debt reduction. That way we'll be able to maintain our credit rating and avoid paying the higher vig.(rate of interest)

Because I know different ideological screens have different perspectives, please explain where you disagree with this logical POV?

Good Dog, Happy Man

Fur94

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN,

In response to the post below, I'm not 100% sure what you are asking. If you are saying that the government uses our money then yes, I completely agree with you.

However I think I disagree with your statement that "The moral and ethical thing to do would be to return the money to the owners." While there have been countless examples of immorality, I don't think government is immoral nor are taxes unethical by their existence. Both emulate the nature of the people in charge of them.

We have a system that puts us in charge, and this limits the ability of any one person becoming too powerful, but our system breaks down when people will blindly follow the elected, and fail to hold them accountable.

My original post pointed out some of my doubts, which I think follows this process. I read your reply as saying I am being foolish for doing so, and I should instead root for the good guys. As I said above, I see that type of allegiance as a characteristic of low-information voters.

GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN
GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN

@Fur94,

Was a majority of those states having budget surpluses managed by conservative Republican governors and legislatures?

Were they Right-To-Work states?

Good Dog, Happy Man.

Fur94

You can easily compare the map at the link with maps that show right to work states. The two do not line up well. Here's one link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Right_to_work.svg

While a lot of the northern right to work states are showing a surplus, very few of the southern right to work states do. The states that show a surplus don't really line up well with Republican/Democrat maps either. This includes control of their state houses or how they voted for President.

What I see as one of the stronger indicators of a surplus is the population size of the state. Most of the states have populations the size of Wisconsin or smaller, though New York and Michigan are bigger (with surpluses) and several states in the south are smaller than Wisconsin (with deficits).

The point is that Walker isn't alone in creating a surplus, and his choices were not the only way to balance a budget. If I remember correctly, Wisconsin had the 2nd or 3rd smallest deficit in the country before Walker took office, so the other states may have even achieved better results. A surplus is good news, but attributing it as something only Walker or the Governor's policies could have done is completely false.

mbadger

I moved to North Carolina when Doyle was governor because I couldn't take the tax and spend,spend,spend,regime.It is time to consider moving back. Governor Walker is turning the ship of state in the right direction.

PennyWise

I actually find this a very disingenious article and am pretty amused by anyone actually believing this 'budget surplus' statement. If you want facts : Wisconsin is diseminating to the public a budgeting method that is not used by any state when reporting ot the Federal Government what their state of the state is.

What Walker is giving you is the cash method...i.e. Not telling you that any future debts are not included in this figure that is thrown out there. The official account method is called GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and has been sent to the Feds stating that Wisconsin has over a $3 Billion dollar deficit. You can find this information almost anywhere, don't believe me and certainly don't believe what the party-line is telling you.

There is no surpuls. It's all smoke and mirrors and for people to actually believe in this is ludicrous. Do you actually believe that $3 Billion dollars in deficit disappears in two years and you end up with a surplus. Get real. Get informed.

PapaLorax

Yes we still have a balance on the credit card - but we are paying our obligations.

But I agree - the GAAP deficit should be dealt with...time for more cuts.

PennyWise

Here's an idea lorax. Instead of more cuts how about we get the revenue being given to companies that pay no taxes in this state. Remove corporate welfare and up their rates instead of destroying the future generation's ability to learn enough to keep Wisconsin profitible.

jwalk

So, you're saying that we should not believe what we read from the Associated Press what a NON PARTISAN legislative fiscal bureau reported and instead believe someone on a Madison newspaper bulletin board known for scrawling nothing but lefty babble?
How cute.

PennyWise

Idiotic reply. I said above, don't believe me. Check for yourself. But in your eagerness to respond with a partisan statement you simply embarass yourself. As I said, idiotic reply.

jwalk

You said "THERE IS NO SURPLUS. IT'S ALL SMOKE AND MIRRORS..."
That was your statement. You weren't quoting from some fact finder article.
So I'm just curious as to how you dreamed up this statement. Show me this analysis that brought you to this conclusion. A conclusion that seems to avois the AP and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Me thinks it's a case of Walker Derangement Syndrome.

Blatant

OK, let's see... Surplus = Good, yes? However, at what cost? Where did the money come from, and where will it go? What about the new fees being implemented? Fees = Tax, without using the word Tax, no? The Non-Partisan Fiscal Bureau is not recommended to report on that.

Their is always more to a headline or pro ported "fact" than ""someone" once said"". It seems to me, some people are sucked in a little to easily.

If our representatives really want to address waste and spending and to prove that they are serious; they should start with themselves.

PapaLorax

all the money comes from the taxpayers...we gave them a massive amount of money and they didn't spend it all. What a freaking amazing concept. Previous amounts we hoped to spend (and when we talk of cutting that is what we are cutting) doesn't actually give anyone money and lowering those numbers doesn't 'take' money away.

You must think all the money belongs to the government and only through their good graces should we be glad they let us keep any of it.

To anyone who says we still have work to cut the GAAP deficit...awesome. MORE CUTS!!

River

Spend it on a 800 room hotel in downtown Madison Mr. Walker!

skippie

Powmda to the left it is not about facts. Facts have nothing to do with it. It's simply that they did not get their way and they are upset so they went around breaking into public buildings, peeing in the halls, threatening the lives if people and destroying property. But again these are all well documented facts and facts don't matter.

powmda

Given the number of posts that are "negative" on this good news, it is clear that Walker Derangement Syndrome is alive and thriving among the Wisconsin Left. The state of things in WI compared to, say, Illinois, New York, and California couldn't be more graphic. And all the vitriol flung about by the Left can't change those facts.

DaneCounty

I hope Scott Walker remembers the $31.6 he pocketed from the settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders. That was money intended to help compensate those who were victims of the illegal mortgage practices that caused so many to lose their homes and to aid in the rebuilding of stricken neighborhoods. Walker pocketed that money so the state’s budget gap could be closed. Since we have a surplus now, shouldn't that money go to the victims for whom it was intended?

PapaLorax

The state was a 'victim' too...plus they are creating program to help others who were affected.

Big_Joe

Yes, DC, these victims were devastated after:

1) Borrowing with little or no cash equity, i.e. skin in the game.
2) Signing on for payments they couldn't possibly afford.
3) Living at no cost for up to 18 months while foreclosure action took its course.
4) Enjoying a net cost of housing during ownership that was very likely lower than renting.

In a nanny state where no one should be accountable for their decisions, these people were indeed victims. In the real world, not so much.

mjp

Good job Mr. Walker. You can count on my vote.

iponder

Put it in the rainy day fund.

skippie

Yes, thank you Governor Walker! We voted for you and support what you are doing. Keep up moving us forward!

skippie

Freddie, facts trump opinion every time everywhere but in liberal lala land. Fact is, LESS teachers were laid off under act 10 than previous because of huge savings at the schools. Fact is, we never eve kept the best young teachers if we had a layoff because under union rules tenure > quality. Our schools are better off under Act 10, that's why WEA refused to release their study results before the recall election. Sorry bud, your side is losing and losing big and it's the best thing that could happen

jwalk

THANKS GOV WALKER! That's why we elected you TWICE!

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

Anyone who thinks the NATIONAL government should be paying down its debt should probably feel likewise about the STATE government. Let's use this money make a start on balancing our books, rather than squandering it on a pittance of a tax refund.

skippie

Again oh illiterate ones, "the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau" (hint, that group is independent of Walker) released these numbers. I guess low information voters do not understand what the word "nonpartisan" means.

S54k

Quit the negative comments or tomorrow it'll be a $500 million surplus. What is the price to make us all love him? Who really knows what the real number is? Has he ever told us the truth about anything?

skippie

There is one thing we all know, to liberals a bigger surplus proves Walker is bad. A smaller surplus proves Walker is Bad, if we only get the projected surplus it proves Walker is bad, if we run a deficit it proves Walker is bad. Only liberals are capable of this complete lack of thought and reason. It's because to many liberals fact really mean nothing, it's all all about feeling its all about intensions and liberals often seem to know the unspoken thoughts and motives of all conservatives. They really are a superior people!

Cheezer
Cheezer

THANK YOU GOV WALKER!

skippie

Walker>>>>Obama. Walker = surplus, Obama = bankruptcy. higher taxes are not the answer. California has hight taxes, that is why millionaires like Tiger Woods left the state and Mickleson said he was thinking of leaving. Higher taxes are why the UK lost about half of their wealthy. You cannot dispute these facts but feel free to engage in some more name calling!

spooky tooth

Walker got the surplus with deep cuts to education, middle class and the poor. You can't believe this is good.

Cheezer
Cheezer

Not good. Great!

skippie

Koala, I understand your frustration. You don't have a defensible position, things are not going how you want them to, and the state is doing better. This upsets you so you resort to what liberals do best, name call. You liberals are so predictable. So big on hate so light on facts.

spooky tooth

Do you have any friends? Really!

koala

Judging from the comments here, no ... except possibly cheezer. People who post dozens of times a day generally are (a) still living with their mother, or (b) unemployed, or (c) have mental health issues, or (d) don't give a damn what kind of idiot they're making themselves appear in front of others.

skippie

And Freddie, MPS hade one of the best new teachers in the nation she got the award. The unions forced the
school to can her.

I am so glad we have act 10 now so we no longer are forced to fire great teachers!

Thanks for bringing that up Freddie!!!

freddiebell

skippie: And thanks for reminding me that because of Act 10, there is less money to hire those potentially great teachers in the first place, and that they have other, often better options in other states to seek out and obtain those opportunities for excellence.

Be honest here: is the example you cite the rule, or the exception?

And, would you care to discuss the ramifications of Act 10 at the university level while you're at it, and how it is decimating the UW system (both the universities and the UW Colleges)? Would you like to know how many tenure-track lines have been lost over the past two years? How many positions are staffed instead by part-timers and instructional academic staff who consistently are working well beyond their stated job descriptions and pay grade despite no additional compensation or job security for doing so? How many core infrastructure projects have been put on hold or cancelled for lack of sufficient revenue? What impact it stands to have on initiatives such as the two-year BAAS degree and flexible degree option (which the governor himself touted in his address last week)? There is plenty more to cite here -- suffice it to say that we can't generate a first-class educational institution, at any level, on a shoestring budget. It is an investment, and we all get out of it over time what we choose to put into it. We must make the smart choice, not the fast one.

skippie

Freddie,quit self destructing and read
and comprehend. The report is by a non partisan organization! You seem to be saying that numbers generated by conservatives, moderates, republicans, and non-partisans cannot be trusted. Is the only person you trust to give you accurate numbers a liberal? Really?

Also, my income is down way more than our state workers income so i know about sacrifice (possibly more than you). It's insanity to think state workers income should not decrease when median income in the nation is down over 7% under Obama. We don't have the money to pay them. Even dimwits can understand you can't keep spending money you don't have.

freddiebell

skippie: You must have learned the modern art of anonymous social discourse from Thurston: attack first ("Quit self destructing") when you have nothing more cogent to say and hope that you'll scare your opponent into submission. That won't work here.

I guess you've never seen how official numbers, whether budgetary, jobs created and lost, etc. etc., often are revised afterward as new data come in, situational variables are taken into account, and other factors (e.g. federal vs. state support) come into play. Do YOU believe everything you read at first glance, particularly when the information is variable and officials (on both sides) are known to play politics with it for personal and/or partisan gain?

I never said anything about "liberal" numbers or "conservative" numbers. You did. Do not put words into my mouth. I'd rather see you set aside your own clearly biased reading specs and look at the issues objectively all around. Neither side has a monopoly on the truth.

I don't see where anybody here, your supposed "dimwits" or otherwise, has advocated spending money that people don't have. The issue is what might be the best approach to generate said money for the benefit of ALL Wisconsinites, not just certain ones and primarily at the expense of certain others. You still haven't answered this question: why not focus instead on how to raise that median income and help people like yourself to grow rather than trying to tear down others as the "solution" to economic stagnation. Stripping people of wealth to create prosperity constitutes an oxymoron in practice. And espousing the politics of hatred and resentment isn't going to get it done.

Farmdog

Since the state has a surplus, maybe it should pay its bills ? Right now there is no money in the fund used to pay special prosecutors, for example. Special prosecutors are used by the state to cover criminal prosecution when there is an absence of a prosecutor in a county or a conflict of interest. For the past several years that fund has run out money long before all such persons were paid. As a result, special prosecutors have not been paid until the following fiscal year, sometimes as much as a year after the work was done. In the mean time, the tax payer must pay 12% interest on the unpaid balance. Thus, while in the end this may be an interest windfall, despite the fact the state has a surplus, it prefers to throw away that interest away instead of paying its bills. There are no doubt other areas where this occurs, yet our governor has represented we have a balanced budget and now a surplus. In the end, if the republican run state government were concerned about saving tax dollars, it would immediately pay off the state's debts rather than run up the interest. Moreover, having a surplus is not necessarily anything to brag about, when government services are not paid for or are severely slashed.


koala

Agreed. And not only is there no $$ for special prosecutors, there isn't really enough for ordinary prosecutors/DAs/ADAs. Continuing to pay UW faculty uncompetitive salaries is already having disastrous effects. Cuts to K-12 schools and tech colleges are undermining the long-term potential of the state right now. The state's transportation infrastructure – think about all those long-neglected bridges – sorely needs reinvestment. But all Walker and the Republicsns can talk about are more tax cuts. And, judging from the statements being made by others in response to this article, it would seem that a substantial part of the public wants tax cuts and is oblivious to the long-term consequences. That is to say, a lot of people (think skippie, for example) have all the sensible judgement re long-term goals as a 4-year old does. Maybe less. Ultimately, if wise public decisions are to be made, we need more voters to think more carefully about long-term causes and effects.

Farmdog

Agreed. The special prosecutor example is but one in a sea of problems Walker has created in terms of government services. Anyone can slash and burn a budget and appear to create a surplus. Frankly, it is amazing Walker has the audacity to brag about this, since even he must know this approach ends up costing more money in the long run than it ever saves. It's called penny wise and pound foolish tea party politics frankly. Someday perhaps the adults will regain control of state govenment as voters see through their subterfuge.

tomtom33
tomtom33

Why do I think that there is no shortage of places that we can find to spend any extra?

dhannes
dhannes

Sort of like asking your whole family to only eat two meals a day instead of three...lo and behold, you have extra money! How about feeding the kids three meals a day again?

But, since we know the GOP won't send money back to the schools, what would help right away is to:
1. Cut income tax withholding...I pay twice as much in federal taxes as I do state taxes, but the state withholds twice as much...this could start as early as April...even a 10% across the board reduction would put money in people's pockets right away.
2. How about a state sales tax holiday? Many states do it in August for parents buying back-to-school supplies...we could mimic Minnesota and exempt clothing of $100 or less from state sales taxes for the month of August.
3. Then, if the surplus does in fact materialize, you can talk about an income tax cut.

MultiVortex

Penny smart. Dollar dumb. Expect lots of partisan smugness for now, but ultimately a long-term heavy punch to our UW system and primary education system.

RecessionSux

Sure is different from Jim Doyle's disastrous regime!

Lionhear

Sux--no doubt!! Adults in charge of spending taxpayer money.

wiprguy

Well, it will be interesting to see how much press the WSJ gives to this.....given the amount of coverage they dumped on us with the recall garbage, and the poor union workers etc etc...Thanks Gov Walker for standing your ground and practicing fiscal responsibility and running the state like a business...

freddiebell

wiprguy: How about if we take a closer look to see how much of this has been achieved by accounting tricks and other gimmicks as opposed to actual revenue generation, how the money stands to be spent or saved, and what impact those decisions have over time, before you seek to canonize Scott Walker as a hero to the masses? Some will benefit. Others will not. Not everything is best run with a business approach. It is not the solution to all problems.

dante

$200 per 2 years per family. That's $100/year, $50/person, or **$4** per month.

Wow. Just.... Wow.

I feel so much better now about gutting public education, driving jobs out of the state, and trashing our state's economy now that I will have an extra $4/month in my pocket...

freddiebell

dante: Yes. In other words ... a large pizza per month, on the state, for a family of four. Yeah, who needs better schools and the best and brightest teachers when that pizza tastes so good going down? We'll just let someone else solve that problem later on.

tomtom33
tomtom33

Spending per student has increased drastically in real terms since the 70's. Test scores have not. Just maybe there is a solution other than throwing more money at the problem.

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

Yay! Good news!

Now about that structural deficit ...

Shake
Shake

Did anybody's local taxes go up?

TheJudoon
TheJudoon

LOL!
Just waiting for the truth.
Remember ... Teapublicans suck at math and hire a lot of spin doctors.

Lynne4300

And democrats us FAKE UW doctors!

Thank you, Scott Walker!

11B-OEFX

Why doesn't the paper bring up the proposed increase in fees and taxes which would negate any tax cut?

skippie

Why do you liberals wish to see the state destroyed? I want our state to prosper and I want our nation to prosper. Our state is starting to come back. Our nation, unfortunately, is not.

Shake
Shake

That's why the DOW is about 300 points short of it's all time high.

tomtom33
tomtom33

The all-time high was reached in 2007. What kind of investment return have we had since 2007?

freddiebell

skippie: If you really mean what you say, then you should be rooting for those public sector workers you so blindly disparage. As fellow taxpayers and consumers, their success helps make you successful too when they spend their prosperity, and that in turn enhances your own bottom line over time. Ever heard the phrase "a rising tide floats all boats"? Give it some thought.

skippie

I love the denial going on by the left here. A mom partisan grips shows we have a surplus and because the news is good, Libs know the report is not true. It was a great thing we did cutting state workers income. It help them understand what all us private sector workers have been going through!!! No reason they should be above losing income.

freddiebell

skippie: Are you going to go to bat for those same state employees when times get better and -- unlike in the private sector -- so many of them don't have the freedom to ask for a raise or a promotion even when they've done outstanding work? What sacrifices have you made for the common good? What have you given up or done without while you're so quick to pass judgment and tell others arbitrarily that they endure those cuts? What personal, first-hand experience do you have in the public sector that enables you to draw blanket conclusions and informs you how much they actually know about economic hardship? Why is it better to drag people down to a lower level rather than trying to build up those others who have not had it as well as you claim? Tell us.

Put up or shut up, skippie. You stand challenged.

eclectic

This can't be. There must be a mistake. Probably a conspiracy.

All of my Madison friends say it isn't so.

Liberalsmakesense

Our Governor is KNOWN to pull rabbits out of a hat. He is doing it again!

Thurston Howell III

And what's under your hat? Nothing at all? I thought so.

freddiebell

Thurston:

Do you ever have anything to say in this forum that doesn't involve unwarranted attacks and personal insults? We don't need what little you have to offer.

Thurston Howell III

Read your own posts, clown, before criticizing anyone else.

freddiebell

Thurston:

Clown, indeed. Get over yourself. You can call me names all you want. You only cheapen yourself. Thankfully there are other conservative posters here who enjoy spirited discussion of our shared topics without having to resort to your style of lowest common denominator attacks. I welcome their contributions. Yours are pointless; keep on slinging your bull, if that makes you happy.

paulwesterberg

Only, its not, Walker said he would switch the state to GAAP accounting, but he didn't make the change so the state is still doing cost shifting in order to make the books look balanced.

Now he wants more welfare for business and tax cuts for his friends, next year the state will be broke again and he will be "forced" to kick needy families off badgercare.

Stopthespending

Thank you Governor Walker.

Contrast our situation to the one in Illinois where despite a 66% increase in taxes the government controlled by liberal Democrats is running deficits in the billions. Another adjacent state, Indiana with Republicans in charge are also running a budget surplus.

See a pattern here?

WinnerWinner

Every penny? Source please.

Why should state employees get a raise? Increased productivity?

Give it back to the taxpayers. State employees are paid well enough.

freddiebell

WW:

1) Why a raise? Ever heard of a cost of living adjustment? After seven years or more without them in many cases, it is long overdue.

2) The additional money they get paid will go right back into the economy when they turn around and spend it on things they need but have had to do without for years now -- think cars, appliances, home repair and improvement, etc. etc. etc. That will benefit, both directly and indirectly, a wide range of people just like YOU.

3) State employees are taxpayers too. If you doubt that, then please refund all that they've paid into the system over the years so that your statement becomes true. Then let's see what that does to YOUR tax bill.

This is really simple stuff. Try thinking before putting fingers to keyboard. You embarrass yourself mightily here.

@ point #2 - The same can be said for the tax refund that We All get.

Mad-son
Mad-son

This all could have been done without a war on public employee uniions. The dirty secret is they got a surplus by shifting costs to counties and cities and other budget austerity measures that promotes the idea that they are saving money, when they are in fact shedding their responsibities to do it.

This is not more efficient or effective government. This is deliberately drowning it in the bathtub to further an failed ideology that kick the can down the road in order to look good now.

What they "saved", local districts must make up for.

tebriel

Doesn't have much to do with fiscal responsibility. Unless being responsible is cutting people's paychecks and giving money to your corporate donors. Then they're going to squander it by giving $10 bucks back to everyone, instead of finally saving something for the rainy day fund.

jrclen

There must be a lot of really annoyed liberals in Wisconsin today with this great news.

array1

Every penny of that surplus came from pay cuts to state workers As most State employees have not even had a raise for the past 5 years how about giving it back to them?

Lionhear

Check out the number of applicants per posted state jobs. Then get back to us about how tough it is to be a state employee. You're still much less put on than the private sector.

array1

So you have not had a cost of living adjustment in over 5 years? So you have negotiated raises to be taken as benefits and then had take home pay slashed up to 10% ??

Yeah right

dhannes
dhannes

I agree...let's at least to try to keep some of them before they retire or move to the private sector.

WinnerWinner

*crickets*

Imagine that. Fiscal responsibility works.

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