Governor Walker Unveils Final Details on Budget Fix
In a speech at Wisconsin State Capitol building, Governor Scott Walker reveals final budget proposal, including increased spending, new initiatives, and tax relief with five standing ovations.
Governor Walkers, “Budget Repair Bill” has been fully unveiled. Most of the budget cuts were to be expect and had been already highlighted in other articles. However, there were many new additions mentioned in his speech transcribed by NBC26. Here are the highlights:
• There will be no cap in the Milwaukee school choice program and the elimination of income restrictions.
• New 3rd graders literacy program to ensure basic literacy.
• Repeal the early release program for criminals.
• Expand charter school programs with no more zip code restrictions.
• There will be no more raids on the transportation funding, and a $5.7 billion dollar increase in transportation funding.
• Maintain state tuition reimbursement for veterans and financial aid funding for citizens.
• There will be an increased level of funding for DNA labs and investigating online predators of children.
• $225 million will be allocated to repair the Wisconsin Zoo Interchange.
• Capital gains tax for long term Wisconsin companies will be eliminated.
• Employers who hire more workers in Wisconsin will receive tax relief.
• Property tax levies for home owners will be locked to local areas.
Governor Walker’s full budget plan is highly controversial. The main concern forming on the national level is on whether or not Governor Walker is union busting. The opposition to the budget repair bill is extensive and claims it is not about money, but workers rights. Governor Walker’s speech did revisit union contributions with deep cuts in funding, but nothing new was broached on those subjects.
Budget reconciliation has been used in the past to tweak revenue and spending by both parties. The sweeping changes’ Governor Walker has proposed is rather large. The budget fix will reduce deficits by 4.2 billion, while providing tax relief to the residents of Wisconsin. There will in addition be greater funding for roads and their justice system. The increased funding on roads and criminal investigations will most certainly be welcomed in the state of Wisconsin.
Worker rights are widely debated with the proposed budget fix. The decrease in funding will inevitably lead to termination of employment for some in the medical, education and public administrative fields. The main issue revolves around health insurance premiums and pension contributions by state employees. Pension and health insurance premium contributions will slightly rise, but will still remain well below the rates in the private sector.
The disagreement Democrats typically have with these new proposals are on Education. No zip code and income restrictions would essentially be the gate way into a voucher system, which the Democrats venomously oppose, but most of all the teacher unions. If Republicans in Wisconsin can gather enough support, we may see a voucher system in Wisconsin fairly soon.
Wisconsin faces deep cuts in general funding and increases in union contributions with reduced state benefits. Governor Walker had promised to balance the budget, while not increasing taxes. The budget proposal should not come as a shock to anyone. The debate on public sector unions and budget reconciliation will rage on regardless if the bill is passed or not.
Governor Scott Walker, ” Read Governor Walker’s Biennial Budget Address,” NBC26.
Tom Held, ” Full speed ahead for Zoo Interchange reconstruction,” Journal Sentinel.