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Fiscal Responsibility and Growing Economy Creates State Budget Surplus

A Column of Personal Opinion by State Senator Sheila Harsdorf

(Wisconsin State Capitol – Madison) – Updated revenue estimates released this week by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau indicate that Wisconsin’s budget surplus will grow by $911 million by the end of the two-year budget.  The increasing budget surplus is the result of our state’s growing economy and the Legislature’s fiscally responsible budgeting.

 “The latest revenue figures and the budget surplus are great news for Wisconsin residents,” Harsdorf stated.  “The surplus provides us with another opportunity to return tax dollars to hardworking taxpayers, as well as providing greater budget stability through the rainy day fund.”

The latest revenue figures are in addition to the $670 million surplus at the end of the prior fiscal year last summer, which the State Legislature returned to taxpayers through income tax cuts in the state budget bill.  An additional $100 million in unanticipated revenue growth was applied to property tax relief last fall.  The current budget surplus will enable a third significant tax relief measure to be enacted this legislative session.

“Our state’s economic growth and the prudent budgeting by the State Legislature are continuing to pay off for taxpayers,” continued Harsdorf.  “The reforms we have passed in recent years are still working to balance the budget, control spending, and encourage economic growth.”

Under state law, a portion of the new budget surplus will be placed in the state’s rainy day fund later this year.  The rainy day fund currently has a record balance of $280 million and contributions have been made to the fund for three consecutive years for the first time.  Harsdorf led efforts to protect the rainy day fund from raids by limiting its use to only during below-normal economic growth when state revenues are less than anticipated.

“As the legislative session wraps up this spring, I look forward to working on delivering further tax relief while continuing to focus on improving our economy and jobs climate,” Harsdorf said.  “I am thrilled that we will be able to continue putting taxpayers first by building on the tax relief we have already enacted this session.”

It is expected that legislation directing the use of the budget surplus will soon come before the State Legislature’s budget-writing committee, on which Harsdorf serves.