On Thursday, July 8, Governor Tony Evers (D) signed 2021 Act 58, the state budget for the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium, which began July 1. The Wisconsin Assembly approved the budget bill (Assembly Bill 68) on June 29, with the Senate concurring in the bill the following day. The two-year budget, assembled by the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee (JFC), spends $87.5 billion and cuts income and property taxes by $3.4 billion.
The Assembly voted 64-34 to approve the budget, with four Democratic representatives joining all Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. The Wisconsin Senate voted 23-9 to concur in the state budget, with three Democratic Senators joining all present Republicans in backing the bill. This year marks the first time since 2007 that a state budget has cleared either house of the Legislature with the support of legislators from both parties.
While approving the budget, Gov. Evers used his line-item veto authority 50 times, mostly making minor adjustments to program- and project-specific appropriations and language. The governor’s most notable veto was to nix a transfer of $550 million from the state’s general fund to the budget stabilization (“rainy day”) fund. That money will sit unspent in state coffers unless the Legislature and Gov. Evers agree on how to spend it.
In his veto message to the Legislature, Gov. Evers wrote that he “object[s] to making these funds unavailable for supporting the needs of Wisconsinites that the Legislature failed to address. … I request the Legislature work with me to instead invest these funds to address the immediate needs of Wisconsinites.” Many of the governor’s other veto explanations objected to the Legislature placing limits on the authority or flexibility of state agencies. All told, Gov. Evers used his line-item veto authority the fewest times since the 2011-2013 budget, when Governor Scott Walker (R) also issued 50 partial vetoes.
Gov. Evers left in place a tax reduction for the state’s third individual income tax bracket, which includes most Wisconsin taxpayers. However, the governor eliminated a provision to revise the income tax withholding tables to reflect this and other recent changes to tax rates. This means many taxpayers will have about the same amount of money withheld from their paychecks, but will ultimately have more money returned to them – via tax refunds – when they file their taxes in 2022.
For more information about the budget, follow the links below:
- Hamilton Consulting Group’s in-depth summary of the state budget
- Governor Evers’ message to the Legislature explaining his line-item vetoes
- Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the governor’s partial vetoes