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Governor & Legislators discussing best use of projected revenue surplus dollars


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau released new revenue projections Thursday, and they are very good for the state. The new estimates predict state revenue collections will be up 911 million dollars higher than previously expected.

Governor Scott Walker says the new figures show Wisconsin’s economy is turning around and the state is on the right track. “This additional $911 million in projected revenue is a sign Wisconsin’s economy continues to grow and add jobs, and it’s more great news for the hardworking taxpayers.”

Walker has his State of the State Address next week, and he has said he plans to cut property and income taxes every year he is in office. This projected surplus should make that goal possible. “The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action.”

Senator Jerry Petrowski says before that State of the State address, he and other Legislators plan to speak to the Governor to suggest ways to make that revenue work harder for taxpayers. “There’s going to be a lot of discussions on how the money should be used. Personally, I think we should pay our bills. We should make sure that there is no structural deficit going into the future, and then after we pay that out of course, we have the rainy day fund. We can talk about a lot of things that maybe will increase producing jobs and things like that.”

There is another part of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s estimates that are good for the state. Petrowski says the struggling transportation fund is getting much more than expected in fuel taxes. “The estimate for the transportation budget is that we were going to end the biennial budget cycle with a 1.8 million dollar estimated surplus, and that has jumped now to 84 million. The increase came from a lot of truck traffic, a lot of manufacturing and moving products, goods and services in the State of Wisconsin.”Senator Petrowski says the increased transportation revenue comes when the state really needs it. “That is really going to help our transportation budget. It isn’t going to be the total answer (to transportation funding issues) but it’s much better to be dealing with a surplus than it would be dealing with a shortfall.”

Senator Petrowski hopes to see part of that revenue surplus applied towards what he calls a huge transportation problem that affects business and agriculture. That is a grant program to help replace deficient bridges. “In some cases, there are businesses in rural areas that in order to move their goods to market, they have to drive way around a bridge because the bridge is deficient. This plan would put in five million dollars a year for three years into a process where they can apply for these grants, and it’s a 90-10 match.” Petrowski says there are several smaller bridges on key routes that are structurally deficient and need replacement.

(Our interview with Senator Jerry Petrowski can be heard on our website, here.)