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Capitol Update: State of Wisconsin - Annual fiscal report
Every year the State of Wisconsin issues an annual fiscal report detailing the revenue and spending of the state over the previous fiscal year. The report is completed on a cash accounting basis but still offers an opportunity to look at the ongoing condition of our state government. Taking a broad look at the tax dollars the state received and how we spent that money in the last year can reveal important lessons.

Crunching the numbers and looking closer at how state government spends money shows some of our priorities. The table (top) details the top 10 programs the State of Wisconsin funds with general fund tax dollars. Spending this year, last year, and the percent change in the ten biggest programs in our state is included.

Wisconsin's investment in education remains a top priority while medical assistance represents an increasing amount of the state's budget, mirroring increases in health costs and Medicaid enrollment. The Wisconsin Technical College System shows a large increase due to a $400 million investment in that system. The last budget included an increase of $400 million in aid to technical colleges, which allowed the colleges to reduce their tax levies.

The second component of our state's budget is revenue, or the tax dollars the state collects. Over the past year tax collections have increased by 4.3 percent, primarily a result of improving economic growth and activity. This included an increase in individual income taxes, sales and use tax, as well as corporate taxes.

Taking revenue and expenses together, I am hopeful we are moving in a positive direction for the State of Wisconsin. We continue to focus on making investments in our state, while being mindful of taxpayers, and ultimately keeping the bottom line for our state in mind. Wisconsin ended its June 30, 2015 fiscal year with a positive cash balance of $135.5 million.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.

- Sen. Howard Marklein represents Wisconsin's 17th Senate District. His column is published Mondays in the Times.