Posted at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2011
by Paul Tosto
My colleague Molly Bloom got an intriguing question recently from a citizen in MPR's Public Insight Network. about what seemed to be a huge difference in government spending by Wisconsin compared to Minnesota.
Molly did some digging. She writes:
A source in our Public Insight Network asked why the Wisconsin budget that recently passed was $66 billion while Minnesota's budget likely will be somewhere between $34 and $36 billion even though our populations are very similar (5.2 million vs. 5.6 million).
I spoke with Christina Wessel at the Minnesota Budget Project and she explained that it's because Minnesota and Wisconsin deal with their budgets differently. The budget that's being debated right now in Minnesota is the general fund money.
When you include all funds (Transportation & Transit, Special Revenue, Debt Service and Federal), then Minnesota's biennium budget is actually $65.7 billion. That $66 billion budget that Wisconsin passed includes their general fund and all other funds.
So, Minnesota's and Wisconsin's budgets are very similar in size, even though the budget bill numbers being talked about seem very different.