Wisconsin state budget (2012-2013)

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The FY 2013-15 state budget documents can be found here.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said on September 5, 2012 that higher-than-expected tax collections would create a surplus of $273 million.[1]

Passage of the Budget

On June 26, 2011, Governor Scott Walker signed the $66 billion FY 2012-13 state budget that passed the legislature along party lines into law. The budget did not raise general taxes, but it cut more than $1 billion from education and local governments. The governor also rewrote a section of the budget to require public employees to work five years before qualifying for pension benefits.[2] The state faced a $3.6 billion budget shortfall over the next two years as reported by Wisconsin Republicans to MSNBC.[3]

The Wisconsin State Assembly approved the $66 billion FY 2012-13 budget by a vote of 60-38 on June 16, 2011. The budget increased spending of state and federal money by $1.1 billion, an increase of 1.8 percent over the previous biennium. Under the spending plan, the state would end the biennium with an estimated $300 million surplus in its main account. The budget reduced aid to schools by $800 million over two years and limited property taxes to facilitate significant tax cuts for manufacturers, multi-state corporations and investors. It also limited spending on health programs for the poor.[4]

The Joint Finance Committee approved the state budget on June 3, 2011 with a party line vote of 12 to 5. The committee scaled back a plan to privatize enrollment for state aid programs for the poor and approved a new tax cut for manufacturing and agricultural businesses.[5] It was approved by the Wisconsin State Legislature. The legislature was prepared to add in the collective bargaining limits to the budget bill if the Wisconsin Supreme Court had not ruled to reinstate the law, but the Supreme Court did reinstate it the night before the budget went before the full Assembly.

Mortgage settlement money

Gov. Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced plans to use $25.6 million of the national mortgage settlement money, approximately 18 percent of the funds the state would receive, to plug holes in the state's budget.[6]


On December 23, 2011, the state Department of Administration announced $123 million in cuts for FY 2012 that were initially part of the budget passed in June but had not yet been specified. It cut $46.1 million from the University of Wisconsin System, which was followed by trimming $18.5 million from the Department of Health Services and cutting $9.4 million from the Department of Corrections. The Department of Children and Families lost $8.3 million and planned to cut $8.1 million in "income augmentation." The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp saw a $2.1 million reduction in funds.[7]

The University of Wisconsin System lost an addition $19.7 million in FY 2013 as part of an additional $5 million in planned cuts.[7][8]

The governor in October 2011 asked state agencies to plan for $300 million in possible cuts over the next two years, which was up from the $174 million in cuts agencies had been expecting. Some state agencies returned some of their state funding already allocated in the budget. Of the $174 million in original cuts, most would be to the University of Wisconsin System, which represented about seven percent of the state's General Program Revenue expenditures.[9]

Merit Raises

Gov. Walker established a program that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in merit raises and bonuses to some state workers, despite talks of budget deficits and cost cutting. An analysis of data The Associated Press obtained through an open records request showed Wisconsin agencies handed out more than $765,000 in bonuses and merit raises in 2012 to nearly 220 employees, despite the state facing a $143 million shortfall.[10]


Per-pupil funding for the 2012-2013 school year was slightly higher than the per-pupil funding that the state budgeted for in the prior school year. However, it was still $911 below the amount the state sent to school districts per pupil before the start of the recession in 2008.[11]

Sheboygan County

City of Sheboygan officials disputed claims by the Walker administration that their budget measure to have public employees contribute more to health insurance would save the city $1.3 million. City officials said the city was likely to save only $420,000 because employees were already contributing between eight and 10 percent.[12]

Sheboygan County officials reported similar findings. Officials reported saving about $1.6 million in the 2012 budget as a result of benefit concessions under Walker's bill, compared to the $2.1 million the Walker administration claimed.[13]

School officials from the Sheboygan Area School District previously reported saving about $4 million as a result of the collective bargaining bill, versus the $6.6 million reported by the Walker administration.[14]

Regional Libraries

Lawmakers cut state support for Wisconsin's 17 regional public library systems by 10 percent.[15]


The governor's administration expected to receive $45 million from the federal government as reimbursement for past medical costs that the state paid, it believed improperly, because of systemic federal mistakes involving disability programs. On October 30, 2011, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that she lacked the legal authority to make the payments or to provide a "quick solution" to the issue.[16]

The state had to find a way to adjust though the budget already called for $220 million in savings in state money in programs that provided medical care for children and families, nursing home care for the elderly and disabled, and prescription drugs for seniors.[16]


  1. WTAQ.com, "State expects small budget surplus," September 6, 2012
  2. The Green Bay Press Gazette, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs state budget in Green Bay area," June 27, 2011
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named leave
  4. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Budget passes Assembly with provisions on choice schools, broadband funds," June 16, 2011
  5. WHBL.com, "Joint Finance Committee Approves State Budget," June 4, 2011
  6. The Huffington Post, "National Mortgage Settlement: Some States Using Mortgage Deal Funds To Close Budget Gaps," February 10, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wisconsin State Journal, "State releases details of budget cuts; UW System to take biggest hit," December 24, 2011
  8. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW System shoulders biggest share of new budget cuts," December 23, 2011
  9. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW System, state government face deeper cuts," October 19, 2011
  10. ABC, "Wis. Gives $765,000 in Bonuses Despite Budget Hole," April 20, 2012
  11. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Amount budgeted per pupil lags total before recession," September 4, 2012
  12. Sheboygan Press, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget reforms: Sheboygan County numbers appear inflated," April 23, 2012
  13. Sheboygan Press, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget reforms: Sheboygan County numbers appear inflated," April 23, 2012
  14. Sheboygan Press, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget reforms: Sheboygan County numbers appear inflated," April 23, 2012
  15. Superior Telegram, "Budget cuts threaten regional library system," April 23, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "$45 million federal check not in the mail," October 30, 2011