I'd been harping on the fact that Wisconsin's February revenue numbers had been delayed, and I passed it off to it being Easter Week.
Well, the revenue numbers were slipped out late Monday, and I didn't see them until this evening. And yes, February can be a bit weird because it's the start of tax filing season, and a lot of refunds are given out in the early part of the filing season (you may have been one of them). But even with that caveat, there's no way these numbers aren't alarming.
Feb 2016 Wis tax revenues vs Feb 2015
Income tax -39.1% (-$88.6 mil)
Sales tax +2.7% (+$9.7 mil)
Corporate tax -36.3% (-$6.7 mil)
Excise tax -13.9% (-$6.5 mil)
Other +27.2% (+$1.0 mil)
TOTAL -14.0% (-$91.2 mil)
A $91 million decrease month-over-month is awful enough. But even the sales tax figure is bad, because that tepid 2.7% increase isn't a sign of economic growth, but is only an increase because of the extra Leap Day! In fact, on a per-day basis, sales tax also went down last month.
The drop in income tax also leaves the state's coffers behind the 8 ball, because the LFB's already-reduced 2016 revenue figures count on an increase in income tax of more than 6.6%, but we only have a year-over-year increase of 4.25% at this point. A 2.35% miss in income tax would equal a $183.5 million shortfall, and sales tax is also running below the 3.2% increase that the LFB estimated, at a 2.7% year-over-year increase.
Things were already tight in this state budget, with only $70 million in breathing room before the last month of the legislative session. And February's bad numbers make it a whole lot tighter. If the tax-season months of March and April don't have a bounce-back and stay below trend, it will be likely that the 2016-17 fiscal year budget will have to be repaired...even with $726 million in unspecified lapses built into that budget.
Uh oh, looks like the Donald has another bit of ammo to show that Scott Walker is screwing up in Wisconsin. Well, Trump would be talking about that, if he hadn't self-destructed and flailed about on the abortion issue in Green Bay today. But even after the presidential candidates leave Wisconsin next month, our budget mess is going to continue, and the February revenue numbers indicate it may get even worse.