Wisconsin projects $100 million shortfall under current budget

Wisconsin is expected to take in $100 million less in revenue than it expected by the end of the 2015–17 budget, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported today.

The shortfall is the result of a $158.2 million decrease in projected tax collection. Some spending will have to be cut from the budget.

Democrats said that tax revenues have fallen short because Republicans have failed to generate jobs that would increase Wisconsinites’ take-home pay. Several noted the irony of the news coming so closely on the heals of Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State address, during which he touted the state’s economy and finances under his leadership.

Walker has slashed many state programs in order to provide large tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations. That strategy, known as “trickle-down” economics, has been the mainstay of the GOP’s financial strategy for nearly four decades.

“Big tax breaks for businesses do not trickle down to the pockets of our citizens,” said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton. “Let’s try something new like prioritizing funding for education, increasing the minimum wage and roll back some business tax breaks in favor of middle class tax cuts. We know what works to improve the economy, unfortunately there is not a Republican out there that will consider proven solutions.”

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said, “The first step toward improving our state’s finances is accepting federal BadgerCare funds to provide health care to roughly 80,000 Wisconsinites at a savings of more than $300 million to taxpayers over the next two years.”

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D–La Crosse, said, “Democrats will continue to fight for investments in local schools, worker training and infrastructure projects to create jobs and move our state forward.”

The budget shortfall comes after Wisconsin experienced the worst year for mass layoffs and plant closing since 2010 last year.

But the shortfall for 2015 is better than the $2 billion deficit the state had leading into the 2015–17 budget negotiations.