Audit: Wisconsin deficit erased, rainy day fund larger

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The Legislative Audit Bureau this week released its review of the state’s financial statements from the 2019-2020 budget year. The audit states that Wisconsin has erased its general fund deficit. 

(The Center Square) – Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are taking a victory lap after another report shows the state’s financial picture is improving.

Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate cheered the news. 

“The General Fund’s total fund balance improved from a deficit of $763.1 million as of June 30, 2019, to a surplus of $1.5 million as of June 30, 2020,” auditors wrote. 

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, offered similar sentiments.

“I first ran for office in part because, as a Certified Public Accountant, I was astonished the state was using borderline fraudulent accounting methods,” Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said. “In 2010, Wisconsin was in the company of California, Illinois and New Jersey. Today we are fiscally solvent, we have been running budget surpluses, our pension system is nearly fully funded, and our rainy day fund is stronger than ever.”


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Even Gov. Tony Evers chimed in to celebrate the news. 

“Turning around a big ship like Government takes time, perseverance and patience,” Kapenga said. “My fellow CPAs and I came in from the private sector to make a difference, and this is an example of how applying common sense to government budgeting can help the citizens we serve.”

But Republicans in Madison say it was their hard work rather than the governor’s that brought Wisconsin to this point. 


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“Our diligence of investing in the issues Wisconsinites care about without running up the state’s credit card has paid off and helps us ensure Wisconsin’s future economic stability, which is as important as ever,” Evers said. “This is great news for our state and will put us in a stronger position to move our state forward and focus on the priorities of the people.”

“[Wisconsin] has improved its financial position by over $3 billion dollars in the past nine years. It has taken steady fiscal discipline to get us to where we are today,” Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said. “My Senate district borders Illinois. What a contrast between the financial condition of Wisconsin and Illinois!”

“Nearly a billion dollars in tax relief this session, the books are balanced, the rainy day fund is healthy and the GAAP balance is positive for the first time in decades,” Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, said. “This didn’t happen by accident and certainly not overnight. For the past ten years we have been making intentional decisions to build a strong economic foundation for future generations of Wisconsinites. It is imperative that our committee continues to build on Wisconsin’s strong position, and we are committed to doing just that.”

There are some concerns in the latest audit. The LAB found that Wisconsin’s unassigned fund balance had a deficit of $1.1 billion as of June 30, 2020. 

The audit also found that Wisconsin’s Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy day fund, increased by nearly $106 million. It is currently sitting at $762 million. That is the largest rainy day fund in Wisconsin history. 

The auditors also noted several persistent problems at the state’s Department of Workforce Development in administering Wisconsin’s unemployment claims.

“The General Fund unassigned fund balance represents that more resources were spent or obligated for other purposes than were received or anticipated to be received in the near term,” auditors wrote.

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By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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