Source: ‘Spectacular’ Wisconsin revenue increases coming

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By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wisc. – Word is, Wisconsin could be looking at some “spectacular” revenue figures when the new tax and spending estimates come down later this month, an aide for a top legislative leader tells Wisconsin Reporter.

“We’re hearing that the revenue numbers are going to be pretty spectacular,” the aide said. While unable to cite a specific figure, the aide said early estimates point to “significantly high” revenue collections ahead – driven by higher sales and income tax receipts, thanks to a recovering economy.

CHA-CHING: A legislative source tells Wisconsin Reporter the state is looking at significantly higher revenue ahead, more signs of a recovering economy.

State revenue has been on the upswing. The state Department of Administration showed a general fund with revenue running ahead of expectations by about $760 million for fiscal year 2013, ended June 30. That has typically been described as a surplus, but with a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, deficit at $1.7 billion, not to mention total state debt of $15.98 billion, a real surplus is a ways away.

Last month, the state Department of Revenue reported tax revenue climbed 4.6 percent between July and November, the first five months of the 2014 fiscal year. Without factoring in the real-time adjustment, General Fund tax revenue were up about 8.4 percent, or $400 million higher than the same period last fiscal year.

Sales tax revenue grew by 8.3 percent through November, a key indicator of a strengthening economy.

With a much-improved state fiscal position, Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican-led Legislature have delivered on more than $1 billion in tax cuts – $100 million of that in property tax relief.

“Unfortunately, there are some critics who measure the health of our state economy by only one part of the picture, the monthly jobs data, which can be confusing. What no one can argue is that our economic indicators are strong and we are giving back to the people who supplied the money to our funds: the taxpayers,” state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said in a column last month.

It remains to be seen whether more tax relief and broader debt reduction will be on the table in the Legislature, should the “spectacular” revenue increases hold. One thing is certain: No matter how significant the increase, there won’t be more money than politicians can spend.

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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