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Friday, January 27, 2023
Chris Larson

State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, used the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's release to highlight the problems he says families will now face over the next two years.

State structural deficit projected at $1.8 billion for 2015-'17 cycle

Wisconsin faces a $1.8 billion structural deficit, according to budget forecasts for the 2015-'17 biennium released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau Monday.

The news quickly elicited numerous statements from both sides of the aisle, with representatives and senators placing blame on the opposing party.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the numbers indicate Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to improve Wisconsin’s economy have failed.

“This staggering structural deficit confirms that Republicans and Walker are not only failing to create jobs, but are also completely reckless with our state finances—taking a budget surplus and careening it into a massive deficit,” Barca said in a Monday statement.

State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, echoed Barca’s sentiments in a Monday statement.

“Over the next two years, this $1.8 billion deficit will cost individual Wisconsinites $300 each, or $1,200 for families of four,” Larson said. “Given the current economic climate of Wisconsin being last in the Midwest in job growth, this is a price Wisconsin residents can’t afford.”

The Republicans were quick to respond to the figures. State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance, refuted the existence of a deficit in the first place.

“Wisconsin does not have a deficit. Thanks to Republican reforms, the 2014 budget will begin with a $443 million surplus,” they wrote in a joint statement. “We also have the largest rainy day fund in state history.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, concurred with his Republican colleagues, saying in a statement the Democrats were “looking for dark clouds on a sunny day.”

However, Bob Lang, director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, clarified that a structural deficit means that if revenue and expenditure trends do not change, the state will have a $1.8 billion deficit at the end of the 2015-’17 financial period.

“The '15-'17 budget is going to have to be addressed by getting strong revenue growth, or by changing expenditure levels,” Lang said. “Hopefully we will have some new decisions with regards to expenditure.”

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