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Good Budget News
Despite the pandemic, state revenues only fell $112.6 million.  This shortfall is less than one-sixth the size of the projected rainy day fund.
This week the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) announced preliminary revenues for the 2019-20 fiscal year.  This memo provided the most complete picture of state revenues since the start of the pandemic.

Unlike other states that are facing multi-billion dollar deficits, the new analysis showed that general fund revenues in Wisconsin were only down $112.6 million, or 0.6%, from LFB’s January estimate.  As recently as April, Governor Evers’ administration had projected “that state revenue losses are likely to exceed $2 billion over the next year.”

State revenues dropped dramatically in April and May, but recovered substantially in June after the “Stay at Home” order was ended.  At the end of the fiscal year, income and sales tax collections were only down 1.6% from the January estimate.  Corporate income taxes actually exceeded prior estimates by 7%.
Surprisingly, the state is still projected to make a small deposit into its rainy day fund.  The $105.9 million deposit will increase this fund to $761.8 million.  This is another record high for the fund, which had less than $2 million ten years ago.

Even though revenues declined less than some feared, the state is still expected to face tough fiscal challenges due to the pandemic.  For example, spending for public assistance programs will likely exceed what was set-aside in the 2019-21 state budget.

Still, this non-partisan analysis notes that state revenues through June 30 of this year were “1.1% higher than the previous year.”  Tough budget decisions in the past, a substantial rainy day fund, and a strong credit rating have Wisconsin well-positioned to address our upcoming fiscal challenges.
LFB Analysis of 2019-20 Tax Collections
This week I toured Lakeshore Technical College (LTC).  LTC President Dr. Paul Carlsen and his staff showed the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of students and faculty this fall.
DNR Resumes Selling Daily Passes
Since May 1, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has only been offering annual passes for state park admission.  As Labor Day weekend approaches, the DNR announced that daily trail and admission passes will again be sold at all state park system properties.  Each property will have at least one of the following options available to purchase daily passes:
  • Electronic pay station
  • Self-registration station
  • Drive-up window service
There still may be temporary capacity restrictions to manage overcrowding at certain properties along with closures of towers, shelters, nature centers, and various other buildings.
DNR Announces Daily Park Passes
On Monday, I toured the Killsnake Wildlife Area with members of Ducks Unlimited.
School Safety System Launched
As students are getting back to school, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT Resource Center to help address threats of violence in schools.  The system was developed at the direction of the DOJ’s Office of School Safety (OSS) Advisory Committee.  This office was created by the Legislature’s 2018 School Safety Initiative.

If students, teachers, parents, or community members have a school safety concern, they can contact the resource center through its website, mobile phone app, or by calling toll-free at (800) MY-SUSO-1.  This office will work directly with school administrators, law enforcement, and counselors to address the concern.

In the event of an emergency, DOJ reminds citizens to instead call 9-1-1.
DOJ Launches Speak Up, Speak Out
Have a great Labor Day weekend,
 
September 4, 2020
 
In This Edition
  • Good Budget News
  • Daily Park Passes
  • School Safety
Important Links
Legislation Tracker
You can find more information on all the current legislative proposals at the Legislative Homepage.

The Legislature also provides a helpful bill tracking service.

You can sign up to follow legislation as it makes it way through the Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature Notification Service.
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