Fiscal Bureau Predicts $125 Million Budget Surplus, then Structural Deficit

MacIver News Service | October 15, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s General Fund Condition Statement released Tuesday shows an anticipated $125 million budget surplus for the current state budget and a $725 million structural deficit for the next budget (2015-17) based on the state’s financial commitments under current law.

In August the LFB anticipated both the surplus for this budget and the deficit for next budget to be lower. The surplus for the 2013-15 budget was projected at $91 million, and the 2015-17 deficit was at $545 million.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the increase in the deficit is a result of a $100 million property tax cut, for which Governor Walker called a special session of the legislature this week. That $100 million is being taken out of an unexpected budget surplus from the current state budget.

Representative Dale Kooyenga, one of the first CPAs to sit on the Joint Committee on Finance in the state’s history, has previously pointed out that such long range projections are a snapshot in time and do not factor in economic growth. He told the MacIver News Service over the summer, even very small economic growth tends to wipe out such long-range structural deficits.

Even if the $725 million deficit were to stand, it would be the lowest structural deficit since at least the 1997-99 biennium. In that period, Wisconsin only saw one structural surplus under the 2013-15 budget. According to the LFB, the largest deficit since then was $2.8 billion during the 2003-05 biennium.