Lawmakers React to $1 Billion Surplus

MacIver News Service | January 17, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin lawmakers wasted no time in reacting to the news that the state would end the current biennium on June 30, 2015 with a budget surplus of over $1 billion according to estimates by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Thursday.

“In contrast, every year under the Doyle administration property taxes were increased by 4%. Every year under the Walker administration, property tax bills on the average home have gone down. In 2009, Governor Doyle delivered a state economic stimulus bill that included a $1.2 billion tax hike, under Governor Walker, we will be cutting taxes for the third time in a year. It’s no wonder that 94% of job creators say we are on the right track,” said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), JFC Co-Chair.

“The Governor and Legislature have enacted several tax cuts, through responsible fiscal budgeting, that are growing the state’s economy,” said Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). “Our continued leadership will lead to more jobs and economic activity in Wisconsin.”

Republicans seemed intent on using the funds for some sort of tax relief. Many spoke about that desire generally. That included members of the Joint Committee on Finance, who will be responsible for deciding where the excess funds will go.

“The significant budget surplus projected in today’s report gives us yet another opportunity to reduce the tax burden. We will continue working to return more tax dollars to the people of Wisconsin,” said Rep. Pat Strachota.

Others had more specific ideas for where the money should go.

“This money belongs to Wisconsin taxpayers, and I look forward to returning it to their pockets. I wholeheartedly support Governor Walker’s plan for a combination of income and property tax reform– this will ensure immediate relief for those who need and deserve it most,” said Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson).

“In the coming days, many ideas on how to provide this tax relief will come forward. It is my hope that most of the surplus dollars will go toward property tax relief,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).

Democrats, on the other hand, looked for ways to use the surplus as an example of poor leadership from the Republicans.

“As Wisconsin job growth continues to lag behind our Midwestern neighbors, Governor Walker and his GOP allies in the legislature have been given an opportunity to put the $800 million that was stolen from Wisconsin children’s education back into classrooms across our state,” said Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee). “The state’s short term gain is on the backs of Wisconsin’s children.”

“Wisconsin still lags behind the nation on economic recovery and job creation. To reverse that unacceptable trend, any surplus should be dedicated to things that are proven to have the biggest impact on turning around our economy to help working middle-class families,” said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). “It’s true that middle-class taxpayers are in need of relief after Republicans gave their hard-earned money away to unaccountable private voucher schools, tax breaks for the wealthy, special interests and a health care plan that unnecessarily costs Wisconsin taxpayers more and covers fewer people. But simply doubling down on the same failed Republican policies will do nothing to help make 2014 a ‘Year of Action for the Middle Class’ here in Wisconsin.”