Budget will likely test the limits of Wisconsin’s divided government

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


The first major test of divided government in Wisconsin will come when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers presents his budget to the GOP-controlled Legislature in late February or early March. He and legislative leaders have suggested they share priorities such as transportation, school funding, rural economic development, and criminal justice reform — but agreeing to the details may be more difficult. 

Conventional wisdom holds that the state budget is the one bill that must be passed in every two-year legislative session, but delays often occur when there is divided government. Unlike the federal government, Wisconsin state government will not shut down if a two-year budget is not passed by the start of the July 1 fiscal year. 

Under state law, current spending levels remain in place until a new one is adopted. However, pressure tends to build the longer local governments, schools, and other entities that depend on state funding have to wait for new aid numbers.

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. Learn more at wispolicyforum.org.