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Walker to deliver first State of the State address

MADISON - Governor Scott Walker will deliver his first State-of-the-State address tonight. And he'll explain how he'll fix a deficit in the current state budget of $79-million to $340-million.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released the figures yesterday. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the new numbers confirm that tough choices will have to be made. And Joint Finance co-chairs Robin Vos and Alberta Darling promised to work with Walker to solve the problem. The Fiscal Bureau said the state would have a cash balance of $121-million at the end of the current budget period June 30th, as the result of lower debt payments. But officials said there are still at least $200-million to be paid in the next five months, including $169-million in Medicaid costs. That will leave the budget at least $79-million in the red.

In addition, the courts have told the state to pay back $200-million-dollars it raided from a fund that pays medical malpractice jury awards. And the state owes $58-million to Minnesota as the final payment of an income tax reciprocity agreement that ended in 2009. That could drive the current deficit up to $340-million, depending on when those payments are due. And that doesn't include the three-billion-dollar shortfall expected in the next state budget which begins July first. Walker will describe how he'll fix that deficit in his budget speech on February 22nd.

The address begins at 7 p.m. and will be shown on Wisconsin Public Television.