WISCONSIN (WXOW)—Governor Scott Walker proposes a tax cut, more spending on voucher programs as an alternative to public schools and an end to residency requirements for public employees during the 2013 Budget Address.
The governor's two year budget proposal calls for a three percent increase in state spending this year and a two percent increase in 2014.
Gov. Walker said his policies over the past two years have allowed the state to enjoy a budget surplus that allows investments in priorities like tax cuts and education.
His tax cut plan would cost $343 million.
"Combined, a family of four, with Mom and Dad making about $40,000 each would save $272 from the income and property tax relief in our budget," Gov. Walker said. "Over the next decade, this family stands to save more than $1,000 in income taxes alone.
"If you divide that out that comes to $2.61 a week which is not even enough to buy a gallon of milk. I'd say the excitement over the tax cut is a little bit overblown," Rep. Jill Billings (D) 95th Assembly Dist. said.
"I don't think the income tax as proposed is not a true middle class tax cut," Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D) 32nd Senate Dist. said. "It is weighted towards people in the top income bracket. And we really need to have targeted middle class tax relief for families in Wisconsin."
Gov. Walker also called for nearly a two percent increase in aid to public schools, but nearly a 30 percent increase in aid to private schools through expanding the voucher program.
Gov. Walker said the voucher program holds public schools accountable for their performance.
"At the same time, our budget gives financial assistance to turn around schools that fail to meet expectations," Gov. Walker said. "While we work to improve under performing schools, our children can't afford to wait. This is why we provide new choices for parents in areas where schools are failing to meet expectations."
Sen. Shilling said Gov. Walker's plan freezes public education and diverts $100 million of state tax payer money to the voucher program.
Rather than putting tax payer dollars into the voucher program, she said we should invest in public education, invest in the next generation and invest in the future.
"The sons and daughters of Wisconsin are losing out on quality education at the expense of these unaccountable and under performing voucher schools," Sen. Shilling said.
Gov. Walker said his goal is to make sure every child, no matter what their income, has access to a great education.
"I think we do need to make sure we have good schools for our kids to attend in Wisconsin," Rep. Billings said. "The problem is if we increase the state support of voucher schools we're not going to be able to keep that funding towards our public schools."
Rep. Billings said every child should be able to go to a good school so she likes the idea of holding failing schools accountable and making them create a plan for improvement.
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