State to finish 2015-17 budget in the black, but with smaller surplus

MADISON — New projections show the state will finish the 2015-17 budget with less money than expected.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released forecasts Thursday showing the state will finish the biennium $70.2 million in the black. That's down dramatically from previous projections that showed the state would finish with $164.5 million.

The fiscal bureau said the reduction results from a decrease of nearly $160 million in estimated tax collection and a $29.5 million decrease in lapses to the general fund.

Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang said the projections don't include the $6 million cost of a bill Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign overhauling the state's civil service system. After the governor signs the measure, the balance will shrink to about $64 million.

Governor Scott Walker released the following statement about the updated projections:

"Wisconsin is projected to finish the biennium with a $135 million surplus.  We have a proven track record of keeping the state’s fiscal house in order, and these projections show the impact of our sound fiscal management.  Since taking office, we have ended every fiscal year with a positive cash balance.  We will continue to prudently manage taxpayers' dollars while ensuring state government is more efficient, more effective, and more accountable to the public."