Nov 22, 11:31 AM EST

Correction: Wisconsin Budget story


MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- In an Associated Press story Nov. 21 about a budget deficit facing the state of Wisconsin, some of the story's headlines erroneously referred to the projected deficit as being nearly $700 billion. It is nearly $700 million.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Walker: Wisconsin faces nearly $700 million budget hole

Gov. Scott Walker's administration says Wisconsin faces a nearly $700 million budget shortfall by mid-2019, a problem that the Republican-controlled Legislature will have to tackle after it reconvenes next month

By SCOTT BAUER

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker's administration said Monday that Wisconsin is on track to face a nearly $700 million budget shortfall by mid-2019, a problem that the Republican-controlled Legislature will have to tackle after it reconvenes next month.

The estimate from the state Department of Administration is the first to take into account spending requests made by state agencies for the next two years. The $693 million gap is about 2 percent of what state agencies requested in funding and is far from the $2.2 billion gap that existed at this same point two years ago.

State law requires a balanced budget. What comes next is the every-two-year push and pull between what state agencies say they need, what the governor proposed they get and what the Legislature ultimately passes.

The drama plays out in stages. Walker will likely submit his budget, with scaled back funding from what agencies asked for, in February. The Legislature, where the Republicans will have their largest majorities in decades, will then spend months rewriting the spending plan before passing it likely in June.

Walker can then move things back closer to what he wanted through his powerful veto authority.

Even though the Legislature is controlled by Republicans, Walker has already taken a different approach than some lawmakers who say they want to explore raising the gas tax to keep state highway road projects on time and plug a $1 billion transportation shortfall.

Walker has said he won't raise gas taxes without a corresponding tax cut elsewhere.

Walker took to Twitter before the release of the report, which is required every two years following an election. He promised that "We will put additional money into public schools, our technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin system in our budget."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald declined to weigh in on the report's findings. His spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said Fitzgerald would withhold comment until after he could review Walker's budget proposal in a couple months.

Other legislative leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state budget affects nearly every person's life in the state, including how much gas costs, when hunting season begins and ends, eligibility for state-funded health insurance through Medicaid, and how much income, sales and property should be taxed.

Writing the budget could also be affected by changes coming out of Washington, with Republicans in full control of Congress working with Donald Trump as president. Their promises to either repeal or replace large portions of the federal health care law and move toward different ways of sending money to the states for such things as Medicaid and highways could alter Wisconsin's budget picture.

Walker, and Republicans both in the state and nationally, have talked about moving toward block grant funding for the states that would give policy makers more flexibility but that Democrats and opponents fear could lead to less money going toward programs like Medicaid that help the poor and disadvantaged.

The state budget estimate for the next two years will be further refined in January when the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau releases likely figures for state tax revenue in the next two years.

The next state budget will run from July 1 through June 30, 2019.

---

Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.