MADISON, Wis. — Republican leaders at the helm of the Legislature said they will scrap Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal and start from scratch.
While the move doesn’t come as a surprise, there is one big reason: the governor’s spending priorities would be the largest imbalance of any budget, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan, independent Wisconsin Policy Forum cited by Republicans.
According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum Budget Brief, the Badger State is in its strongest fiscal position in at least four decades, or possibly ever due to a projected $7.1 billion dollar surplus by June 30. However, the report also found Gov. Evers’ spending priorities would exceed revenues by almost $5.2 billion in 2024 and $1.3 billion in 2025.
“Governor Evers’ frivolous spending is why the Legislature is going to throw out his ideas and start from scratch,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in an email update to constituents. “Legislative Republicans will be good stewards of your tax dollars, fund the right priorities, and make responsible fiscal choices for our state. We’re confident we will once again craft a good budget that the governor will sign into law.”
Many of Gov. Evers’ proposals are onetime expenses, which are beneficial with a onetime surplus to avoid future spending obligations by investing in programs that will lack financial support later.
Among those onetime investments are expanding broadband, establishing a paid family medical leave program, as well as paying off some debt for road projects.
However, the new spending priorities would go to a few areas, including public K-12 education, shared revenue, and tax relief.
Regardless of onetime or ongoing expenses, the analysis recommended that both lawmakers and the governor be careful with new spending or tax cuts. That includes the flat tax proposed by Senate Republicans, which is estimated to lower state revenues by nearly $5 billion over the 2023-25 budget.