Buried in last month’s State Department report on state agency budget requests for the next two years are three interesting numbers that total $803.2 million. .

While the news report focused — rightly so — on the department’s forecast that the state government will end the current budget with a surplus of $6.5 billion in On June 30, the agency also reported the interest to be earned on this large amount in hand.

Interest on this surplus amounts to $803.2 million over three years: $198.9 million in the year ending June 30; $327.4 million in the year ending mid-2024, and $276.9 million in the year ending mid-2025, the estimate said.

Therefore, if the Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republicans who control the legislative fight between February and July about the money spent in the next budget, the state government will collect $ 16.5 million each money as interest.

The interest-bearing bonanza is another sign of a historic state government season that begins in two weeks, when Evers is sworn in for a second term and dozens of lawmakers join the ranks. to the National Assembly and the Senate. The Senate of 33 will only receive seven new members.

Fiscally, “the state of Wisconsin is in the strongest position in the history of the state,” said DOA Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. And, the separate Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day” account, will be $1.7 billion — also “the largest in state history.”

The Nov. 8 election maintained shared control of the Capitol, with Evers in control of the executive branch and Republicans in control of the legislature.

Public comment on how to spend that $6.5 billion surplus also began in January. That large financial cushion has special interest groups tipping their hand for more money.

The most experienced Republican leader, House Speaker Robin Vos, played up the deficit by saying he wanted a bigger tax cut than the $3.4 billion tax bill drafted by Republicans, signed by Evers, in the current state budget.

Another $3.4 billion in tax cuts is a “very bare bones” change that he would accept, Vos told the WisPolitics forum. “We think it could be much higher than that.”

Vos said all taxpayers will see a reduction. “They all deserve relief. It must contain all brackets. “

Republican Sen. Howard Marklein, co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee that will craft the House budget, will once again push for a repeal of the personal property tax paid by corporations. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Senate Republicans are also exploring a “flat” 3.5 percent income tax.

The JFC has spent $203 million to pay for repealing the personal property tax, if Evers approves the change.

For his part, Evers said that the budget he will present to the legislature on February 15 will include an additional $2 billion for public schools and $600 million for “tax relief.”

That transaction means Evers and Vos start the new year about $2.8 billion apart in the size of the next cut.

Of the dozens of spending differences between Evers and Republican lawmakers, two stand out.

* New “Caregiver Tax Credit” for family members caring for loved ones. Two years ago, Evers offered $100 million to pay off this new debt, saying it would help about 250,000 Wisconsin residents.

Although Republican lawmakers have ignored the request, the government’s budget surplus makes welfare tax breaks more affordable.

* Update on crime and prison reform, which Evers discussed in 2021: “We have failed to adequately fund incarceration, especially for people who need mental health services or abusive treatment. Our prisons are overcrowded, which costs more of your tax dollars. And we haven’t given people enough resources or tools to be safe and successful as our communities re-enter…

“Perhaps most importantly, we still have to deal with the impact of the last twenty-plus years of legislative inconsistency on communities of color.”

The criminal justice debate includes whether to legalize medical or recreational marijuana — two changes Evers called for two years ago.

While he noticed new support among Republican lawmakers for legalizing medical marijuana, Evers was able to strike a compromise in requesting that change. If he did, the seven new senators – five Republicans and two Democrats – could do it.

Steven Walters began covering the Capitol in 1988. Contact him at stevenscotwalters@gmail.com.

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