Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Less a matter of timing than it is numbers

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The Democrats and Milwaukee Tom Barrett need Wisconsin to be in bad shape in order to win, so any good news that comes will be labeled suspect. They’ll do their best to cast doubt in the voters’ minds even though they know the numbers are likely to be true.

Take for instance the recent news that the state budget is headed towards a surplus again. As I wrote this week for the MacIver Institute, Democrats complained that a budget surplus couldn’t possibly be true, but it is.

The new revenue projections had some Democrats crying foul. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca called the timing of the announcement “highly suspect,” while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign aide Phil Walzak questioned the accuracy of the projection.

Senator Mark Miller said the projections were “politically timed” and “unusual.” “Not since the 1980s has this information been released before November,” Miller said in a press release.

However, Dale Knapp with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance told Wisconsin Public Radio that the change from deficit to surplus at this time of year is not unprecedented. Just last year the revenue estimates in May were up to $6 million higher than projected earlier in 2011.

“These again are not big re-estimates, but it puts us back into surplus, and that’s just a function of the fact that we’re carrying very slim deficits, and so we’re moving from one side of the ledger to the other,” he said.

The timing of the announcement also makes sense given the source of the revised projections. According to the letter from Huebsch, general fund revenue collection through April was higher than projected while the amount of refunds were actually lower than projected. Also, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis issued revised numbers indicating income growth in 2011 was higher than previously thought, as well as stronger growth in employment in the third quarter of 2011. Finally, debt refinancing and structural changes account for $78 million more in savings over the biennium than previously projected.

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