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State of the State: Wisconsin in 2011

Harris Kenny
March 1, 2011, 6:14pm

This post is an addition to the ten-part series evaluating 2011 State of the State (SOTS) speeches in states with the ten worst projected relative budget deficits for FY 2012. This last-minute addition was made due to the recent events in Wisconsin, and the substantive nature of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s SOTS address. Budget data is primarily from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) recent budget report, and SOTS speech text is from Stateline.

Wisconsin is one of a few states to use biennial fiscal year budgeting and Figure 1 (below) demonstrates the state's budgetary timeline.

Figure 1: Wisconsin Biennial Fiscal Year Budget Timeline

Figure 1: Wisconsin Biennial Fiscal Year Budget Timeline


The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that the state faced a nearly $6 billion budget deficit during the FY 2009-11 period. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, the following steps were taken to balance the FY 2009-11 budget:

CBPP projects that Wisconsin faces a $3.5 billion deficit during the upcoming budget period (from FY 2011-13). On February 1, 2011 Gov. Walker delivered his SOTS speech (full text available here), which contains valuable insight into his approach to budget deficit.

Overall Governor Walker’s SOTS address contains meaningful policy proposals, accurately depicts his administration’s goals and is clear about the fiscal challenges facing Wisconsin.

For additional policy solutions, Wisconsin policymakers should explore the American Legislative Exchange Council’s State Budget Reform Toolkit and Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Government Privatization section. Each of these documents contains a wide range of methods to balance budgets and maintain high quality public service delivery.

For the other articles in this SOTS series, see: California, Connecticut and Illinois.

Harris Kenny is Policy Analyst

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