The Joint Finance Committee recently finished the public hearing portion of the state budget process.
The committee held four public hearings around the state and heard from hundreds of citizens about what matters most to them.
The next step in the process will be for the committee to vote on each item in the budget. We expect to start that work the second week of April and complete it near the end of May. Before we get to that though, I’d like to give you an overview of the budget in terms of how revenue is generated and where most of it is spent.
The state budget covers the revenue and spending over a two-year period; the fiscal years 2015-16 and 2016-17. Wisconsin’s fiscal year begins July 1. As with a personal budget, the state’s budget lays out how revenue is generated and how much the state expects to bring in from various sources over the two-year period covered by the budget.
The total amount of revenue planned for in the state budget, including general purpose revenue, federal funds, user fees and bond revenue, is $69.9 billion.
Nearly half of the state budget (47 percent) comes from general purpose revenue. This is the money the state collects from the taxes it levies, like income and sales tax.
Nearly 28 percent comes from federal revenue, while 11 percent comes from program revenue, which is collected by specific programs from users in the form of license or inspection fees or tuition.
The last major source of revenue is Segregated Revenue. This is money, like the gas tax, that is required by state law to be deposited in a certain fund. The gas tax, as an example, must be deposited in the transportation fund.
Bonding provides 2.2 percent of the state budget.
More than half, 52 percent, of general purpose revenue comes from individual income tax. Sales and use taxes account for 33 percent of that fund, while corporate income and franchise taxes make up 6.5 percent of it. The rest of general purpose revenue comes from public utilities, excise taxes and insurance companies.
So, how is that $69.9 billion used? That is the crux of budget debate.
More than 70 percent of the state budget is allocated to two main areas: 42.7 percent covers the costs of Medicaid, including SeniorCare, Family Care and BadgerCare and other programs in the Department of Health Services, as well as the Departments of Children and Families, Justice and Corrections. Just over 31 percent of the budget funds education, including public schools and the University of Wisconsin System.
Rounding out the top five functional areas of spending are environmental resources at 11.1 percent of the budget, shared revenue and tax relief at 7.4 percent and general executive at 4.8 percent. Environmental resources includes the Departments of Natural Resources, Tourism and Transportation. The general executive category accounts for The Departments of Administration, Employee Trust Funds and Revenue, the governor and lieutenant governor, The State Treasurer and the Secretary of State as well as the Government Accountability Board and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.
During the budget process it’s important to keep these big ticket budgetary items in mind because they account for such a large portion of the budget. I take my role as Joint Finance Committee Vice-Chair very seriously because the state budget is really the time when we lay out what the state’s priorities are and what matters most to us. I can tell you we will remain dedicated to diligently reviewing each budget proposal as we work our way through the Joint Finance Committee process.