While the budget and reforms passed this year have focused on getting our state's fiscal house in order, resulting in an improved bond rating outlook for Wisconsin, neighboring states are seeing a lowering of their bond ratings as a result of putting off the tough budgeting decisions. Last month, Minnesota was informed that their bond rating was being downgraded by Standard and Poor’s bond rating agency. This decision means that all three major bond rating agencies have now downgraded Minnesota’s bond rating.
The last time Minnesota's bond rating was lowered, it took fifteen years for their bond rating to return to AAA. The Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner said the reason for this downgrade was the use of “one-time measures” to balance their budget and the lack of any long-term financial solutions.
By comparison, the actions taken by the Wisconsin State Legislature this session have put our state on a more stable financial track and laid the groundwork for increased economic development. Our budget reverses years of deficit spending and eliminated a $3.6 billion deficit. Our state’s business climate ranking also jumped 17 points, from 41st to 24th according to one business publication. This was the greatest one-year increase in the magazine’s history.
Wisconsin’s budget seeks to bring government in line with what taxpayers can afford through our efforts to limit government spending while holding the line on property taxes. Additionally, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports that the budget will end without a structural deficit for the first time in over a decade.
Another neighbor, Illinois, is also in dire financial straights with 9.5 percent unemployment and an $8 billion budget deficit even after raising taxes on their residents. On top of that, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that thousands of workers will need to be laid off in order to further address their state’s financial issues.
While we continue to face significant challenges, Wisconsin’s budget restores fiscal responsibility and positions our state to grow jobs. We are setting our state on a path to be in a better position to fund important programs and services.
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