Revised Spending and Revenue Projections Improve Budget Outlook

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 6:38 PM by

Mediocre Revenue Projections Beat the Low Expectations

A modest upturn in the state revenue projections and a significant reduction in state spending estimates have created a much better outlook for the state budget.

Before elaborating on the latest numbers, which were released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) last week, I have to admit that the new state tax collection numbers are considerably better than I expected when I wrote a very cautionary blog post about the next state budget a week or so ago. This is one of two recent occasions (along with my prediction that the Packers would lose to Dallas) when I am very happy to have been wrong.

Although the new revenue forecasts are also significantly better than the Department of Revenue projected two months ago, they are nothing to brag about. In fact, the latest tax collection estimate for the current fiscal year is $281 million less than the estimate that the biennial budget bill was based on. Read more

Four Charts about Wisconsin’s Public Sector

Monday, January 23, 2017 at 9:54 AM by

1. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a lean public sector
Wisconsin had 2.1% fewer state and local government employees than the national average in 2015 given our population size, according to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project. Wisconsin had a leaner public sector than all but 15 states. Read more

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Get the Credit You Deserve: Tax Credit Information in English, Spanish, and Hmong

Friday, January 20, 2017 at 8:50 AM by

Many Wisconsin low-income families miss out on their full tax refund because they do not claim tax credits for which they are eligible —particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Homestead Tax Credit, and the federal child tax credit.  Please help us get these flyers, which explain the eligibility for these credits, into the hands of low-income families who could benefit.

English Version

Spanish Version

Hmong Version Read more

Categories: Blog, EITC, Homestead credit, STATE TAXES | Comments Off on Get the Credit You Deserve: Tax Credit Information in English, Spanish, and Hmong

Blueprint Lays Framework to Help all Communities in Wisconsin Thrive

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 6:15 PM by
In order for Wisconsin remain an attractive place to live and work, the state needs to make investments in a skilled workforce, a strong public education system, and a healthy citizenry. A broad-based coalition has set out a plan for how we can invest to help Wisconsin communities thrive – and it starts by recouping millions of dollars lost to tax loopholes that benefit a small number of people.
Categories: 2017-19 biennial budget, Blog, capital gains, corporate tax, economic development, In Focus State Budget, taxes | Comments Off on Blueprint Lays Framework to Help all Communities in Wisconsin Thrive

Warning Signs for Next Week’s Budget Numbers

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 9:11 PM by

January 18th UPDATE:  Sometimes it feels good to be wrong — like when the Packers outperform my pessimistic predictions and when new state revenue forecasts are stronger than I anticipated. So I’m very happy that the revised revenue projections released this afternoon by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) are considerably better than I expected when I wrote our Jan. 17th blog post.  (Read more here.)

The new LFB numbers indicate that a combination of lower-than-expected spending and higher-than-expected tax revenue will be enough to maintain a comfortable budget balance in the current fiscal year, and also enough to fund the amounts requested by state agencies in the next biennium. That’s a huge relief after the very slow revenue growth from July through November, which suggested that the next estimate of revenue collections was likely to be down, rather than up. This year’s revised revenue collections are still below the level forecasted a year ago, but are now expected to be considerably stronger in the next biennium than the Department of Administration estimated in November. Read more

Teacher Shortage in Wisconsin Most Pronounced in the North, and in STEM Fields

Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8:56 AM by
Many Wisconsin school districts are having a difficult time finding well-qualified teachers, with the scarcity particularly pronounced in northern Wisconsin.
Categories: Blog, EDUCATION, In Focus Education, K-12 | Comments Off on Teacher Shortage in Wisconsin Most Pronounced in the North, and in STEM Fields

Low-Paid Workers in Many Other States – but not Wisconsin – Got a Raise This Month

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 11:42 AM by

Low-paid workers across the country got a raise this month, as 19 states increased their minimum wages. A higher minimum wage means that workers will be better able to make ends meet and support their families, but the benefits don’t end there. More income in the pockets of workers translates to additional economic activity, and workers spend their raises at local businesses buying groceries, getting their cars fixed, or paying off medical bills.

The 19 states that increased their minimum wage this month are Massachusetts, Washington, California, New York, Arizona, Maine, Colorado, Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin workers and communities will not receive any of the benefits of a higher minimum wage. Wisconsin is among the minority of states that have a minimum wage stuck at $7.25 per hour, a level that was last increased in 2009.

Most STates Have Higher Minimum Wage

Because Wisconsin is not among the states that have set a higher minimum wage, a full-time, full-year worker in Wisconsin still earn as little $14,500 per year. Read more

Federal Cuts Could Harm Wide Array of Wisconsin’s Critical Public Services

Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 10:59 AM by

When Wisconsin residents drive on the highway, send their child off to school, or go to the doctor, they are benefitting from federal money spent in Wisconsin that supports a broad range of services. Under a new Congress, Wisconsin may be at risk of losing some of that federal money, making it more difficult for Wisconsin to provide the services that make the state a great place to live, work, and do business.

Wisconsin’s two-year budget that runs from July 2015 to June 2017 includes $21 billion in federal spending. In fact, out of every dollar the state spends in the budget, 29¢ comes from the federal government. Keep in mind that amount, though significant, understates the importance of federal money coming into the state. That’s because that $21 billion figure doesn’t include billions in federal resources that are delivered directly to Wisconsin residents or companies, such as Social Security payments, defense contracts, and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Read more

Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, STATE BUDGET | Comments Off on Federal Cuts Could Harm Wide Array of Wisconsin’s Critical Public Services

State Tax Collections Fall Further Below Expectations

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at 2:15 PM by

Very Slow Tax Growth Suggests Budget Difficulties Ahead

New tax collection numbers that were released late on December 23 do not bode well for the Wisconsin budget. The November tax figures released by the Department of Revenue (DOR) late last Friday – a week after negative job numbers – suggest significant challenges ahead for state budget writers.

I’m not sure whether DOR released the tax collection data just a couple of hours before the Christmas break in order to avoid public notice, but if that was their plan it worked very well. There doesn’t seem to have been any media coverage of the new numbers. Read more

Categories: 2015-17 biennial budget, 2017-19 biennial budget, Blog, corporate tax, STATE TAXES, taxes | Comments Off on State Tax Collections Fall Further Below Expectations

ACA Repeal Would Sharply Reduce Insurance Coverage for Kids

Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 7:26 PM by
Repeal of the federal health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would cause the number of children who are uninsured to more than double. Repealing the ACA without developing a viable replacement plan would result in an increase of 4.4 million additional uninsured children.
Categories: Blog, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform, In Focus Health Human Services | Comments Off on ACA Repeal Would Sharply Reduce Insurance Coverage for Kids