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Highlights of state’s proposed $76 billion budget

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Highlights of the two-year state budget up for approval Wednesday in the Wisconsin Assembly, a vote that comes more than two months after the spending plan was due on July 1:
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INCOME TAXES: The budget committee rejected Walker’s proposal to cut income taxes by $100 million in each of the next two years, which would have resulted in an average reduction of $44 per filer. The budget instead would cut taxes paid by businesses on certain property by about $74 million a year.
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PROPERTY TAXES: The budget eliminates the state portion of the property tax, which is about $90 million a year. The move would save the owner of a median-valued home about $50 over the next two years. The vast majority of property taxes paid by homeowners are levied and collected locally by school districts, cities, counties and technical colleges.
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ROADS: The budget would not raise gas taxes, but registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles would be at least doubled under the budget. The deal would borrow about $400 million over the next two years, which is less than the $500 million Walker called for but would also result in delays for some major work, including around the Milwaukee area. Democrats decried the plan as irresponsible since there is no long-term solution for transportation funding. Republicans have said they are also disappointed, but feel like the plan is a step in the right direction.
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PAY INCREASES: State employees would receive 2 percent pay raises in July 2018 and January 2019. There was no general wage increase for state workers the past two years.
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PREVAILING WAGE: All prevailing wage requirements would be eliminated under the budget beginning in September 2018. The law sets minimum salaries for construction workers on public projects. The Legislature in 2015 eliminated the prevailing wage for local government projects, but the budget would do away with it for state projects, as well. The change is another blow to unions, which had fought the proposal.
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TAX CUTS: Republicans rejected Walker’s proposal to increase a tax credit worth more than $20 million for the working poor. Walker had proposed increasing the earned income tax credit for about 130,000 people that he had cut in 2011, but the Joint Finance Committee did not go along. The budget eliminates the state’s alternative minimum tax, which is typically paid by people who earn between $200,000 and $500,000 a year but also benefits millionaires. It would end in the 2019 tax year, a $7 million tax cut.
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NAURAL RESOURCES: The Department of Natural Resources could raise daily state park admission and camping fees according to a park’s popularity. Publication of a popular Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, which Walker wanted to end altogether, will be scaled back from six to four issues per year. There was strong pushback from fans of the publication and from Democrats and environmentalists who said Walker’s true motivation was to silence scientific articles about subjects such as climate change.
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SELF INSURANCE: The committee rejected Walker’s proposal switching to a self-insurance system where the state would pay for health benefits directly for about 250,000 state workers and family members instead of purchasing insurance from 17 HMOs.
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WHAT’S NEXT? Once approved by the Assembly, the budget heads to the Senate which was scheduled to take it up Friday. Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Tuesday he was still trying to get enough GOP votes to pass it.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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