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Wisconsin Agencies Want $7.5 Billion More In Next State Budget

IRG Wisconsin Drop Its Income Tax
Wisconsin Drop Its Income Tax

Wisconsin lawmakers won’t begin writing the next state budget until next year, but they are already being flooded with requests for billions of dollars more in state money.

The Institute for Reforming Government is out with a new analysis that says Gov. Tony Evers’ state agencies want $7.5 billion in new dollars for the 2023-2025 state budget.

“While most of Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s families are sitting around the kitchen table trying to put together their budgets with the same amount of money coming in the door, even while prices are rising, the folks in Madison don’t seem bothered by inflation at all. In fact, they’re willing to take more money,” IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform Alex Ignatowski told The Center Square Tuesday.

IRG found the largest budget increase comes from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, which is asking for $2.5 billion in new funding.

“They are trying to say that this money is going to trickle down to local schools,” Ignatowski said. “But you and I both know this might be a pass-through, but it’s not a 100% pass-through. And DPI is not the most efficient at getting dollars into the classroom itself.”

DPI is not the only state agency asking for billions of dollars more.

IRG’s analysis says the state’s Department of Health Services is asking for $3.7 billion more.

The UW System is asking state lawmakers for nearly a half-billion dollars more in the next state budget.

Ignatowski said the request comes as most Wisconsin campuses are seeing fewer students.

“The landscape for post-secondary education is changing. The market is starting to dictate what needs to be done in other post-secondary settings, but the UW System is a little bit behind,” Ignatowski added.

There are other requests, including a $20 million ask from the Department of Safety and Professional Services which has come under fire for a months-long backlog for people needing a state license, and a $58 million request from the Department of Workforce Development, which struggled during the coronavirus pandemic to get people their unemployment benefits.

Almost none of the state agencies will get everything they are asking for. Republican lawmakers will write the next state budget, and have denied the same kind of massive spending increases in the past. But Ignatowski said that the agencies are asking is the headline.

“This just shows a huge disconnect between state agencies in Madison, that they are in a different world and a different bubble than your average Wisconsin family,” Ignatowski said.

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