The common-sense reforms we've implemented since taking office have paid massive dividends, and the state of our finances is positive. We call this the Reform Dividend. Our budget proposal reinvests these savings into our top priority areas to ensure Wisconsin students succeed, reduce college costs, care for the needy, maintain our roads and bridges, reward work, and provides a total of $592.7 million in tax relief for our hard-working taxpayers. This budget is built on a solid foundation and together, we'll continue to move Wisconsin forward.
— Governor Scott Walker
Analysis of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's November 21 report "indicates a gross balance of $427.2 million and a net balance of $362.2 million. This is $322.4 million above that of the administration's report" (State of Wisconsin, Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 1/18/17). This positive budget outlook, referred to as the 'Reform Dividend,' was created following responsible management of state resources and a series of common sense reforms that helped build Wisconsin's healthy economy.
Today, Wisconsin's rainy day fund is the largest in state history - 165 times bigger than when Governor Walker took office. The state pension system is one of only a few in the country that is fully funded. And Wisconsin's long-term outstanding debt is one of the lowest (meaning the best) in the nation.
Governor Walker's 2017-2019 Executive Budget proposal uses the Reform Dividend savings to further improve the state's economy and develop its workforce by funding major investments in student success, accountable government, and rewarding work. Investments include:
- Wisconsin taxpayers will see a total of $592.7 million in tax relief in this budget.
- During the six years ending with fiscal year 2016-2017, taxes have been cut by more than $4.7 billion. As existing reductions continue and proposed reductions take effect, taxes will be cut by at least a cumulative $8 billion over eight years ending in fiscal year 2018-2019.
- This budget permanently eliminates the state portion of Wisconsin's property tax bill.
- Property taxes on a median-valued home will be lower in 2018 than 2010.
- Overall, income taxes on a typical family will decrease by $139 in this budget. Cumulative income tax rate cut savings from 2010 to 2018 will save a typical family $1,542.
- New bonding for transportation will drop to its lowest level since the 2001-2003 biennial budget.
- This budget includes the most funding for local governments to repair roads, bridges, and potholes in the last 15 years.
- Moving Wisconsin to a self-insured plan is anticipated to save taxpayers at least $60 million during this budget cycle.
- Invest another $20 million in the Rainy Day Fund, making it 178 times larger than when Governor Walker first took office.
- $11.5 billion of state support in K-12 education. State aid for Wisconsin schools will be at an all-time high.
- $509.2 million increase in per-pupil state aid. Provides a $200 per student increase in the first year and a $204 increase per student in the second year of the biennium.
- The University of Wisconsin (UW) System will receive an increase of more than $100 million.
- An additional $35 million will fully fund a 5 percent tuition reduction for resident UW undergraduates.
- $42.5 million in performance funding will be distributed to UW institutions based on improving college affordability and attainment, enhancing work readiness, graduates finding jobs in Wisconsin, and college efficiency.
- $10 million increase in aid for the Wisconsin Technical College System. This will, in part, offset a freeze in technical college fees, saving the typical student $279 over the next two years.
- Need-based financial assistance will rise to the highest levels in state history.
- $5 million investment in Wisconsin Fast Forward training grants for technical colleges to fill jobs in high-demand industries.
- FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) Program changes are estimated to give as many as 80,000 Wisconsinites the opportunity to gain skills and employment.
- Raise minimum benefit for parents with one child from $135 to $371 in order to bring greater equity to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Eliminate "benefits cliff" for child care subsidies to remove barriers that are disincentives for working families to earn a raise or accept a promotion.
- $724,000 to create the Young Adult Employment Assistance Credit to reward work for young adults aging out of foster care or leaving the federal government's disability program and entering the workforce.
- $2 million to expand Windows to Work and Vocational Training programs that provide ex-offenders with the skills necessary for employment upon reentry to society.
- This budget creates a new panel to review all occupational licenses to separate those who are truly needed to protect the public health and safety and which are just barriers to employment.