Wisconsin lawmakers debate use for $35 m surplus
- Associated Press
- January 6, 2014 - 10:35 AM
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin lawmakers are debating how to use $35 million in surplus economic development-related funds.
The surplus stems from $18.4 million in excess revenues from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and $17 million from a tax on businesses, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Monday (http://bit.ly/19MEIhz ).
WEDC, the state's job creation agency, reported in the fall that it had amassed a $34 million unrestricted reserve, which was $18.4 million more than the maximum reserve target under its board's policies. The rest of the surplus comes from an economic development tax on businesses. The tax, a major source of funding for WEDC, generated $30.4 million last year. The state gave WEDC about $23.2 million from the tax.
The Legislature could use the surplus to cut taxes, pay for new jobs programs or reduce state debt. Lawmakers also could opt to simply keep the money in the state's general fund.
Republicans who control the Legislature say they're discussing what to do with the money.
"There's lots and lots of options," Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, a member of the Legislature's powerful finance committee, told the State Journal. "Sometimes we get a nickel in our pocket and it burns a hole in it rather than think, 'What's coming down the pike here? What's the smart thing to do?'"
Minority Democrats say the GOP should spend the surplus on worker training programs that employers and technical colleges want.
The finance committee is expected to consider a WEDC request to release another $44.7 million for the agency on Wednesday.
The committee held back $63.1 million of WEDC's $118.6 million budget for 2013-15 pending compliance with recommendations in an audit last spring that found accounting problems at the agency. WEDC spokesman Mark Maley says the agency's CEO, Reed Hall, will tell the committee on Wednesday that WEDC is in compliance.
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