Wisconsin’s Biennial Surplus Increases to $1 Billion

MacIver News Service | January 16, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] The state of Wisconsin is projected to have a more than $1 billion surplus by the end of fiscal year 2015, according to a report from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Thursday.

Much of the new revenues are due to increased tax collections that total $892.7 million. The new figure is $911.9 million more than the previous surplus estimate.

Reports of the new revenues have surfaced over the past couple weeks leading to multiple suggestions for how the state will use the funds. The consensus, so far, is that funds will be used for some type of tax relief.

“The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action,” Governor Scott Walker said in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he would like to cut property taxes by increasing state aid to Wisconsin’s technical colleges. A majority of funding for the technical colleges is through local property taxes. If the state increased its funding, it would lower the amount individuals will see on their property tax bills next year.

The total statewide property tax levy for the technical colleges was just under $800 million in December 2013.

To lower income taxes, reports have suggested that the state could reduce its withholding tables. The tables have not been changed since 2009 and would act as an immediate tax cut for Wisconsin’s workers.

The plan that is announced on Wednesday night could also include the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT ensures individuals and businesses that fall into certain criteria pay a minimum of 6.5 percent in income taxes. In its current form, the AMT is expected to impact many businesses in the coming years that were previously not affected.

On top of tax relief, Walker and Vos have both said they would like to put some of the new revenues into the state’s rainy day fund.

The legislature is expected to pass the final plan this session to provide immediate tax relief to Wisconsin’s residents.