A report released Thursday by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers shows that Wisconsin’s financial condition has improved dramatically since the budget was signed earlier this year.
According to the Fiscal Survey of States, the state managed to climb out of a $282 million deficit for the 2003 fiscal year, the largest deficit of any state in the country. It also built a $146 million balance for the 2004 fiscal year, which is larger than that of 24 other states.
To achieve this condition, Wisconsin cut general-fund spending by $170 million, a higher percentage than 44 other states.
“I took office facing the largest budget deficit in the history of Wisconsin, and it required making some difficult choices,” Gov. Jim Doyle said. “But this report shows that our effort to bring fiscal responsibility back to Wisconsin is paying off. We are in much better shape than we were one year ago, putting us in a position to address the challenges of the future: strengthening education, creating jobs and improving health care.”
Doyle had to make layoffs, place limitations on legislators’ out-of-state travel and order a moratorium on lease renewals in order to balance the state budget. The Legislature convened in a special session to pass an emergency budget bill, which caused heated debates for months before being approved and signed by Doyle in July.
The two-year budget cut state payroll by 2,300 positions, eliminated two cabinet departments and cut state spending by $1.5 billion without a state tax increase.