Wisconsin state budget ends fiscal year with a $517 million surplus

MADISON (AP) — The Wisconsin state budget ended the last fiscal year with a $517 million surplus.

That is about $207 million less than projected when the Legislature passed the budget last year.

It's not immediately clear how the new figure released Wednesday by Gov. Scott Walker's administration will affect the closing balance for the budget when it ends in June.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported last month that the budget is projected to be nearly $396 million short by the end of June, but that number will change based on actual tax collections and expenditures.

The Legislature will have to take emergency action to balance the budget if revenues don't increase enough to make up the shortfall.

The state also faces a projected $1.8 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget.

The co-chairs of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) issued the following statement regarding the state's half-billion dollar cash balance for the end of fiscal year 2014:

"Middle class Wisconsin families are thankful Republicans are watching out for their bottom line. We cut taxes by over $2 billion last session, we cut property taxes, we froze tuition and we paid off our debts. Wisconsin is better off, because we budgeted the way families throughout the state do - we are paying our bills and investing in the future.

Republican reforms continue to improve state's economy. Thanks to careful budgeting, Wisconsin ended fiscal year 2014 with a $516.9 cash balance and our Rainy Day Fund is $280 million. Governor Walker saved taxpayers $98 million by tightening the belts of state agencies.

Without question, Wisconsin is better off now than it was 4 years ago. Republicans will continue to fight for tax relief and reforms for the next 4 years."

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson issued the following statement regarding the Department of Administration’s annual fiscal report for 2014:

“For months, Gov. Walker and Republican legislators have been in outright denial about the budget crisis they’ve created in our state.  Today, this crisis remains unaddressed as they continue to run from the facts and refuse to accept reality.

No matter how much political spin they use, they cannot hide the fact that Wisconsin is in a staggering budget crisis because of their extreme actions – including giving away our money to their special interest friends, putting extreme ideology before our health and economic security, and decimating our local public schools.

Because of these bad decisions, our state has floundered at 35th in private sector jobs across the country since the first quarter of 2011, and we remain dead last – 10th out of ten – among our fellow Midwest states during that same period.

Wisconsin families deserve the truth and honest answers from Gov. Walker and Republican legislators.  When will they finally come clean with an actual plan to fix the budget crisis they created in our state?

My Democratic colleagues and I will continue our fight for a Wisconsin future that invests in our neighbors, local schools, workers, and small businesses.  Doing so will provide much-needed opportunities for our workers and families and bring Wisconsin back to the top, where we belong.”