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MADISON – Wisconsin will take in $2.9 billion more through mid-2023 than originally projected, giving lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers a chance to consider spending money or cutting taxes in an election year.
The announcement of the windfall Tuesday came six months after Republicans who control the Legislature passed a state budget that cut more than $2 billion in taxes. The Democratic governor signed that budget and quickly began campaigning for reelection on the tax reductions.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, a Republican from Oostburg, signaled that GOP lawmakers plan to hang onto the money for now and enact additional tax cuts in a year and a half, when they consider the next state budget. That would mean waiting to act until after Evers faces voters.
"We will not be foolish with these tax dollars by spending them into the future," LeMahieu said in a statement. "Rather, we will focus on further tax relief in the next budget to continue our state on a positive trajectory and ensure the long-term health of the state budget and, more importantly, family budgets."
Evers did not detail what he wanted to do with the money but called on lawmakers to act now, not next year.
"At the end of the day, I know folks and families are facing rising costs at the checkout line and businesses are facing challenges getting resources and supplies," Evers said in a statement. "Wisconsinites need help making ends meet and can’t wait until the next biennial budget — they need relief now."
The state is now expected to end its budget cycle in June 2023 with an extra $3.8 billion in its main bank account, according to a memo released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That's $2.9 billion more than was expected as of October.
Republican legislative leaders touted the news and said it showed they had been prudent with the state's finances over the last decade. They acknowledged tax collections are up in part because of a massive increase in federal spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We must continue to be vigilant. We are well-positioned for the future when all of the one-time federal funding will end," said a statement from the co-chairman of the Legislature's budget committee, Sen. Howard Marklein of Spring Green and Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam.
"We must prepare for the future and continue to use the massive federal funding for one-time expenses in order to maintain our extraordinary financial position," they said.
Contact Patrick Marley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin projected to take in additional $2.9 billion over two years