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Assembly GOP announces budget-writing committee members

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has announced the Republican state Assembly members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC). Rep. Mark Born (pictured) returns as co-chair and Rep. Terry Katsma has been elevated to JFC vice-chair. We will report when state Senate GOP and Senate/Assembly Democrat members are announced. The JFC is a joint committee featuring 16 members, 8 from each house, with 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats.
The Assembly GOP members are:
  • Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) Co-Chair
  • Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) Vice-Chair*
  • Rep. Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls)
  • Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc)
  • Rep. Jessie Rodriguez (R-Oak Creek)
  • Rep. Alex Dallman (R-Green Lake)**

*-replaces Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) who opted against seeking reelection to run for secretary of state.
**-new member for 2023-24


State’s potential budget surplus projected to be nearly $6.6 billion

In a statutorily required report, the state Department of Administration (DOA) today said the state’s fiscal condition is in the best position it has ever been, and it expects a nearly $6.6 billion budget surplus to end the current fiscal year on June 30, 2023.  That figure is well above previous expectations that the surplus would total roughly $5 billion. 

In addition, the DOA report issued today anticipates growth in state revenues will add another $1.5 billion to the state’s coffers over the two-year period beginning on July 1, 2023.

The report provides the first look at how the 2023-25 (biennial or two-year) state budget shapes up and the outlook is encouraging. The report finds state agencies have requested a total combined spending increase of $3.6 billion in new general purpose revenue (GPR) over the 2023-25 biennium. (General purpose revenue (GPR) is used to fund state aid to schools, among other things, and is derived mainly from state income and sales taxes.)  

Comparing the projected GPR surplus in the current biennium and the expected GPR revenue growth in the next biennium with state agencies’ budget requests, the report indicates the state could fund every single agency request and still have $4.4 billion left over in the general fund.  (Typically, the Governor’s recommended budget will contain modifications or additions to state agencies’ budget requests, even when the fiscal news is not as positive as it is this year.) 

The report also reiterates that the balance in the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund (a/k/a “Rainy Day Fund”) is slightly more than $1.73 billion.

The takeaway is that there should be plenty of money available in state coffers to both increase public school funding and cut state taxes, which could satisfy both Governor Evers’ goals and the goals of some legislative leaders, particularly leaders in the state Senate. (more…)

Despite inflation, recession worries, support for school referendums remains strong

Voters on Nov. 8 approved 64 of the 81 school district referendum questions placed before them, reflecting a 79 percent overall passage rate. That is generally in line with the passage rate for all types of school referenda on the ballot earlier this year.  Prior to Nov. 8, voters had approved 69 of 85 school referenda, reflecting an 81.2 percent overall passage rate. (more…)

Wispolitics: Vos offers to boost public school funding in return for “universal school choice”


— Robin Vos, fresh off his reelection as Assembly speaker, says he’s willing to boost education funding as Tony Evers wants but would insist the guv in exchange agree to universal school choice.

Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters after yesterday’s leadership election that he hasn’t yet defined what universal choice would entail.

The state has three voucher programs for Milwaukee, Racine and statewide that include income restrictions. There is also a limit in the statewide program on the percentage of a school district’s students that can participate. That limit is scheduled to hit 10 percent in 2025-26 before there is no longer a cap.

Vos said he planned to talk to his caucus to reach consensus before engaging the Senate and possibly Evers, the former state schools superintendent. The speaker noted the Legislature sent Evers a bill this session designed to boost reading scores only for him to veto it.

“If he wants more money for schools, we have to have some reform along the way. We can’t just write a blank check,” Vos said.

Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden: lowest level in at least a generation

From the Wisconsin Policy Forum: “As the pandemic and the resulting recession hit in 2020, Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden fell to its lowest level in at least a generation, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show. Despite the decrease in tax revenues as a share of income in Wisconsin, the state’s tax ranking compared to other states actually became somewhat less favorable. That’s likely due to tax collections in other states being hit harder by COVID-19. Wisconsin’s tax burden, however, remains below the national average despite the state receiving less from fees and federal aid.”

Read the report: State Tax Burden Drops Yet Again

This new report follows one released in November 2021 detailing that over the past 20 years, almost no state has seen a greater drop in its tax burden than Wisconsin, which also saw its ranking among states fall from fourth to the middle of the pack. Depending on how it is measured, the drop in Wisconsin’s state and local taxes as a share of personal income was the largest or nearly the largest nationally since 1999. 

Record state surplus confirmed, should enable more school funding in next state budget

The State of Wisconsin ended its Fiscal Year on June 30, 2022, with a record positive balance of $4.30 billion, according to the new state Annual Fiscal Report released today by the state Department of Administration. That report also confirms that Wisconsin has a record $1.73 billion in its Budget Stabilization Fund (a/k/a “Rainy Day” Fund).

New data shows state income and sales tax collections grew faster than expected in FY2022, propelling the state’s general fund surplus to never-before-seen levels. Taxes flowing into Wisconsin’s general fund grew by 5 percent over the previous year (or just under $1 Billion). In January 2022, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau had projected general fund tax collections, which come principally from income and sales taxes, would fall by 3.2 percent. (more…)