The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated a net state budget surplus of $419.7 million, a surplus greater than the $342 million that was originally projected.
The non-partisan LFB provides annual reports on general state revenue and expenditures before the government makes spending decisions.
In a statement released Thursday evening, Walker reiterated his positive vision for Wisconsin’s future and reminded Wisconsinites of the progress the state has made since last session’s $3.6 billion deficit.
“This predicted surplus will allow hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers to keep more of the money they earn because I plan to move forward with an income tax cut targeting the middle class,” Walker said in the statement.
Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chair the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance. In their statement on Thursday evening, the two emphasized job creation in the state remains their top priority with this new surplus and vowed to continue their efforts.
Darling’s spokesperson, Bob Delaporte, explained the increased budget surplus is a result of less state spending and more tax collection— revenue exceeding expenditure.
Though Delaporte noted an extra $75 million or so is not a huge sum of money, he recognized it is not something the state can be irresponsible with.
“It’s good news for taxpayers either way,” he said.
Delaporte was reluctant to comment on the effects the new surplus may have on the amount of income tax cuts Walker has been talking about making, advising that citizens hold off speculation until Walker’s budget proposal on Feb. 20. He concluded Wisconsin is an “easier economic position” than in years past.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinski said these updated projections, like the surplus itself, were not a true victory. He emphasized the DPW has no reason to doubt the numbers the LFB supplied.
Zielinski said Walker has continued to “kick the can” on economic issues by pushing tough decisions down the road. He also questioned the principles behind the current surplus by saying the state used debt as a reason to make large cuts that affected the middle class.
“What we doubt is the portrayal of victory,” Zielinski said. “[Walker] is trying to inflate the numbers to make things look better than they are.”