LFB Director: Budget will balance without bargaining law - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

LFB Director: Budget will balance without collective bargaining law


MADISON (WKOW) -- A new report released Friday shows, even with the collective bargaining law on hold, the state budget would have a positive balance. But Republicans argue, that's not true. They say they need the contributions from state workers paychecks one way or another.

Bob Lang, the director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released an analysis Friday morning. He says, as long as lawmakers approve a budget fix bill proposed by Governor Walker, the budget will balance with or without the collective bargaining law.

Governor Scott Walker has stood by his budget repair bill from the beginning arguing the pension and health care contributions from state workers are absolutely necessary to balance the state's $137 million budget deficit.

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) says, "We know one of the most important provisions of the collective bargaining law was to ask employees who worked for the state to pay a little bit toward their health insurance and half of the cost of their retirement through pensions."

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates those contributions would save the state $30 million.

Rep. Vos says, "If for some reason the collective bargaining piece does not become law, that will help delay that $30 million and that hurts our overall general fund balance."

Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) says, "Remember we have a $30 billion annual budget, we have a billion dollars in uncollected taxes. That's such a small amount of money honestly, 1% of our state annual budget."

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau crunched the numbers released this analysis. Director Bob Lang was unavailable to talk on camera but told 27 News over the phone, if you look at the gross balance, it would be positive on June 30th of this year with or without Act 10 in effect.

Rep. Hulsey says, "We believe we will be much more balanced and this is the Democratic proposal we put on the table 5 weeks ago."

Both scenarios show a $65 million reserve fund that they're required by law to have for unexpected costs. Lang says the positive numbers wouldn't cover the statutory balance, but that's because it's only a reserve fun.

Representative Vos argues that reserve fund is why you have to look at the net balance which shows a deficit without Act 10.

Rep. Vos says, "If we're able to put the amount of money aside that we need, in addition to have the effects on the employee contributions we don't get the act it's an $18 million dollar deficit, if we do it's an $18 million more than we need."

Lang says his opinion on all of this directly depends on the whether or not lawmakers pass the latest budget bill. Governor Walker released that bill this week. Democrats have said they support it and it's expected to pass on Tuesday, April 5th.

So as long as they do in fact pass that bill, Lang says they would be able to balance the $137 million budget shortfall by the end of June.

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