On Thursday, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) formally announced that the State of Wisconsin has more than $911.9 million in extra revenue. The vast majority of the revenue is the result of an increase in estimated tax collections. As a result of the increased revenue, Wisconsin is projected to have a $977 million surplus by the end of fiscal year 2015.
In recent days, news of the larger than expected revenues leaked out with many speculating it was around $1 billion.
Gov. Walker lauded the new revenue numbers as a sign of economic growth. "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 said.
The governor also renewed his call to use the revenue windfall for tax cuts.
"The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, " said Walker, "and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action."
Speaker Vos echoed this statement saying he hoped that most of the larger than expected revenue could go towards property tax relief.
Thursday morning, State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, a member of the legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee, told RightWisconsin Editor-in-Chief Charlie Sykes that windfall should be used for tax cuts.
"I think this is what we've been preaching as conservatives for some time," said Kooyenga. "You make pro-growth tax cuts, you are actually probably going to see more tax revenue coming in and that's a story we are now telling for the fourth time in one year."
In the last year, Kooyenga noted, Republicans cuts taxes first in the budget, then a boost in new revenue and the UW slush fund provided another round of tax cuts in late spring, then another round of new revenue contributed to a property tax cut last Fall. Now, he said, now this new revenue boost of billion dollars will provide the governor and the legislature a chance to provide even more tax relief.
Kooyenga chided Democrats who, he said, do not seem to understand how the state is generating new revenues even though it has repeatedly cut taxes. But the tax cuts had created an environment for ecnomic growth and job creation.
Using the example of Amazon's decision to locate a warehouse and distribution facility in Wisconsin, Kooyenga noted that unlike neighboring Minnesota, Wisconsin does not have a Warehouse Tax.
"We know what we're doing, we know what business want, and we know what families need," Kooyenga said.
Kooyenga complimented Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for being "tenacious"in urging that the new revenue is used for tax relief.
"Although the vast majority sounds like it will be directed towards tax cuts," Kooyenga told Sykes, "there will be some commitment to making sure that people have the training for jobs and making sure that we're making our commitment that everyone in Wisconsin is seeing the fruits of this economic growth," he said.
"If we keep doing this, we can keep building our safety net and keep looking out for those in our community that need a little assistance."
As for what shape the tax cut takes, Kooyenga said a healthy public policy debate is occurring between the Assembly, the State Senate, and the Governor's office.
The likely plan will include a mix of a property tax cut, possible changing the withholding tables for the income tax and other adjustments to the tax code.