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State's General Fund Records Largest Positive Balance in Wisconsin in State History

Friday, December 24th, 2021 -- 12:00 PM

Gov. Tony Evers announced that the state’s General Fund recorded the largest positive balance in Wisconsin state history at the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Last year, the governor announced that for the first time since the state began publishing its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report in 1990 the state’s General Fund was no longer running a deficit.

The report released shows the state has a GAAP positive balance for the second consecutive year in a row. The positive balance increased from $6.7 million at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year to a record high of $1.18 billion at the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The significant increase in the state’s positive GAAP general fund balance reflects the continued improved financial position of the state that has resulted from greatly expanded budget reserves, increased ending fund balances, and stellar liquidity.

It is anticipated that the reporting of the state’s vastly increased positive GAAP general fund balance will be well received by investors, which could result in even lower costs of borrowing for the state.

The announcement comes as Gov. Evers earlier this year also announced upgraded bond ratings for the state. As stated in this report: “In August 2021, S&P Global Ratings and Kroll Bond Rating Agency raised Wisconsin's credit ratings to AA+ from AA and to AAA from AA+, respectively."

"Kroll Bond Rating Agency cited Wisconsin's substantial liquidity, continuing healthy revenue growth and an ongoing COVID-19 recovery. S&P Global Ratings noted an expectation that the State will continue to take responsive budgetary actions to ensure the State's fiscal stability."

"Higher credit ratings will lower borrowing costs and continue to improve Wisconsin's fiscal position.” Further, the state deposited a record-high $967.4 million into its Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the “rainy-day” fund, earlier this year.

The current balance in the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund now totals nearly $1.73 billion, a figure that is by far the largest in state history. The state’s ACFR for the 2020-21 fiscal year can be found here.

The Department of Administration has published the state’s ACFR since 1990. The report is prepared on a GAAP basis. The adoption of GAAP by the state of Wisconsin for financial reporting purposes serves to present the state’s financial position in a business-like manner.

GAAP reporting accurately measures financial operations, fully discloses financial positions, provides an externally accepted presentation, and provides information for financial managers.

The state of Wisconsin ACFR has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association each year since 1996.

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