Monday, October 17, 2016

A few thoughts on Wisconsin's FY 2016's final budget numbers

This afternoon, the Annual Fiscal Report officially came out. A quick look at the figures reveals the following:

1. Total General Fund balance at the end of FY 2016 was $313.8 million, not far off the $305.5 million that was projected after the year-end revenue shortfall was accounted for, along with expenditure adjustments (I ran it down in this post).

2. There was nearly another $7 million added to Sales taxes vs the Department of Revenue's report on Sept. 1, but "departmental revenues" fell more than $38 million short. So the miss on the revenue side ended up being nearly $116 million below the 2015-16 budget's estimates.

3. So how did our budget balance end up higher? Because we had lapses of $42 million above the budgeted amounts (i.e., underspending of the budget, for various reasons) and not paying $9.74 million in expected raises and fringe benefit increases. This more than offset around $13 million in spending over budget and new legislation that happened elsewhere, so total spending went under by just over $39 million.

4. Also remember that $101 million of that $313.8 million balance is due to the skipping of a debt payment in May, a move that now seems to have been totally unnecessary and will cost us around $13 million a year for the next 8 years. Just a little reminder.

5. The cushion is still very small for these next 8 1/2 months. As of now, the biennium-ending balance is projected to be around $162.5 million, because of higher appropriations and delayed payments that get paid in Fiscal year 2016-17. With the revenue side being $116 million in the hole last year, a similar miss in this fiscal year likely throws the General Fund budget into deficit. We will see in a week or so how the revenues for the first 3 months of this current Fiscal Year looks, by the way.

6. Transportation Fund revenues seem like they exceeded estimates by around $45 million, which will reduce borrowing in this Fiscal Year by the same amount, which is a good thing. But more money had to be used to pay off Transportation Fund debt as well, and that trend will likely continue in coming years from both the Transportation and General Funds.

That's it for now, more in a later post.

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