Feb 20 Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed
a nearly $70 billion biennial budget on Wednesday that combines
income tax cuts with increased spending on transportation
infrastructure and private education.
Walker, a first-term Republican facing re-election next
year, said he would offset the tax cuts and spending increases
contained in his 2013-2015 budget by redirecting some funds away
from public schools and healthcare, freezing aid to local
governments and selling off state assets such as power plants.
Democrats said the proposal would weaken the economic
security of the state's most vulnerable residents.
Walker, who touched off massive protests two years ago when
he curbed the collective bargaining rights of public workers,
said his proposed income tax cut would save residents $343
"More money in the hands of taxpayers will likely drive
greater demand for goods and services, which will likely lead to
greater production and eventually more hiring of employees," he
The proposed budget, unveiled in an address to both houses
of the Legislature in Madison, included expanded state aid to
private schools through voucher programs and the tightening of
income eligibility requirements for recipients of publicly
funded health programs.
Walker said he also wanted "able-bodied, non-elderly" people
receiving food stamps in Wisconsin to be enrolled in mandatory
"I'm all for providing a temporary hand up," he told
lawmakers. "But ... it should not be a permanent handout.
Democrats, who tried unsuccessfully last year to recall
Walker, were critical of the proposed budget.
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who was a candidate for
governor in the Democratic primary ahead of last year's recall
election, said, "Roads and bridges are being paid for by
borrowing and raiding money that would otherwise go to schools
"These are political choices, not the choices voters in
Wisconsin would make."
Walker's proposed budget will now go to the state
Legislature, which is controlled by Walker's fellow Republicans.
Debate on the measure is expected to continue for months.