Budget analyst says state on pace for several hundred million dollar deficit

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by David Ade

MADISON -- The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says right now, Wisconsin is on pace for a $115-million budget shortfall by the end of the next fiscal year. In order to hit that mark, tax revenue needs to increase by 5.6% over last year. Anything short of that will only increase the projected deficit. Tax revenue collection in 2013-2014 fell by 1% over the previous fiscal year.

The director of the Wisconsin Budget Project, Jon Peacock, blames this on tax cuts by Governor Scott Walker, and says it's a simple case of counting chickens before they hatch.   "Before we're really certain that we're going to see that increased revenue, we commit to tax cuts and then the revenue doesn't materialize and we find ourselves with these budget problems." said Peacock.

At an event in Milwaukee Tuesday, Walker stood by those tax cuts. He said, "When you've paid your bills and put your fiscal house back in order, the best thing to do with a surplus is give it back to the people. The hard-working taxpayers of this state."

Walker also said the projected budget gap will be addressed. "There's no doubt in our mind that we will continue to control expenditures as we have in the last three years. We'll be fine. We'll end just as we have in the previous years not only with a balanced budget, but probably a surplus." Walker said.

Peacock says the state will likely need to make significant cuts to spending, and says he's concerned middle and lower class families will feel the impact. He also says, legislators should be working under the assumption they'll need to figure out how to close at least a $300 million budget hole by next June.

In an email from the campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Burke said, "As a businesses person I have made a career of balancing budgets and making tough financial choices. Governor Walker's approach has been fiscally irresponsible, has resulted in a structural deficit and is contributing to the sluggish pace of job creation."
 

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