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 spends $87.5 billion and cuts income and property taxes by $3.4 billion.
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.