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GOP Joint Finance Motion Would Forgo $2.4 Billion in Federal Aid, Nix $1 Billion in Tax Increases

By John Forester | May 5, 2021

From WisPolitics.com …

A motion Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee plan to approve tomorrow would mean forgoing $2.4 billion in federal money while nixing $1 billion in general fund tax increases, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The memo the agency prepared at the request of JFC member Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, summarizes the $2.4 billion impact of the motion to remove more than 380 items from the budget compared to what Gov. Tony Evers proposed.

In addition, the state would pass up $1 billion in additional federal aid for states that approve expanding Medicaid that was included in the latest COVID-19 federal stimulus package President Biden signed. That money wasn’t accounted for in Evers’ budget, which was released before the package was signed.

The move means there will be less state funding for schools, Medicaid and other areas compared to what Evers had proposed.

Still, Republicans have made clear they plan to spend and tax less than what Evers proposed. A separate motion they plan to take up tomorrow would amend the budget bill to base levels rather than working off Evers’ proposal, which included a nearly $8.2 billion spending increase in all funds.

Goyke, D-Milwaukee, stressed the move will pass up $2.4 billion in federal funds that would’ve freed up state money to be spent elsewhere.

“In June when Republicans don’t match the governor’s increase to special education reimbursement that will impact every school district and they say that we can’t afford it, it’s because of the actions that we take on Thursday, May 6,” Goyke said. “It’s not just because of the federal money coming in. But the federal money coming in allows us to use GPR elsewhere.”

Evers proposed a $1.6 billion GPR increase in the Department of Public Instruction budget, including a $709.6 million hike for special education funding.

In January, the LFB projected the state would finish the current fiscal year on June 30 with a nearly $1.9 billion GPR surplus. It also expected general fund tax revenues to grow an additional $1 billion over the 2021-23 biennium. Since then, the guv signed a series of tax changes with a more than $594 million reduction in tax collections through mid-2023.

LFB is expected to do another projection on tax collections for the upcoming biennium after the May 17 filing deadline.

Joint Finance Co-chairs Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said in a statement that Wisconsin is in solid fiscal position and they are focused on “what Wisconsin really needs rather than the Governor’s Madison, campaign wish list.”

“The Governor sent the Legislature an unworkable budget proposal full of pet projects, excessive spending, tax increases and divisive non-fiscal policy,” they said. “Removing these items from our deliberations on the first day enables us to begin crafting a realistic, responsible state budget that addresses the priorities of the people of Wisconsin.”

Read the memo here.

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