Published July 1, 2005 | July 2005 issue
State legislators got good news in mid-May when it was announced that tax collections were running some $350 million above projections for mid-2007. But it came with a big grain of salt: Budgets for a few items, including Medicaid and utility and fuel bills, were higher than expected, wiping out about two-thirds of that paper surplus-bad news considering the state faced a $1.6 billion budget shortfall for the coming two-year budget.
In fact, the past half-decade has been something of a bare cupboard for legislators. According to a recent tax study by the U.S. Census, Wisconsin tax receipts (not including local property taxes) have gone up a paltry 1.4 percent since 2000, fifth-lowest among all states in terms of overall total tax growth for the period. The slow growth is the result of the recession and consecutive tax cuts in 2000 and 2001, triggering a decline in tax revenue, which only last year edged over tax revenue from 2000.
—Ronald A. Wirtz