The state is expected to take in $753 million more through the summer of 2021 than earlier estimated, giving lawmakers a small windfall as they work on the state budget.
Well…first of all…these are always estimates based on current trends. So really…there is no guarantee this will actually happen between now and 2021. But given the current environment in Madison…no one wants to agree on what to do with this windfall should it occur.
Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he would use $56 million of the additional money to immediately pay off debt, which he said would save millions in the long run.
The Democratic governor said he wanted to spend $33 million of the remainder on technical colleges and worker training and put what’s left into the state’s rainy-day fund. Under that plan, the state would likely set aside more than $650 million that it could tap into during the next downturn.
This is surprisingly conservative for a Democratic governor…but I will agree with him. Paying down state debt and building the rainy day fund makes a ton of sense. We have been in an unprecedented economic boom period with no certainly that it will last much longer.
But who can let a surplus amass without screaming tax cuts?!?
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said their caucus would also consider using the funds to reduce taxes.
But it gets even more interesting on the GOP side of the aisle…some want all of the money in the rainy day fund and some none of it…my oh my.
Under existing law, $291 million of the additional money would automatically go into the state’s rainy-day fund.
But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said he wants to pass a bill that would prevent that sum from going into the rainy-day fund.
But GOP Rep. John Nygren of Marinette, the co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, said he wants to put all of the additional revenue in the rainy-day fund.
My vote? A version of Governor Evers’ plan or Rep. Nygren’s plan. Not knowing when the next recession is going to hit, it isn’t unreasonable to set aside unanticipated tax revenues. It will certainly be a lot easier to deal with unanticipated tax shortages sometime in the future.
But apparently, nothing is going to come easy in present day Madison.