MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) Governor Scott Walker's own Republicans say they don't have the votes to approve the half-billion-dollar tax cut he proposed in his State-of-the-State address last night. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he doesn't have a majority of 17 votes for anything right now. G-O-P Senate President Mike Ellis said he'd rather see less money for tax cuts, and at least an extra $100-million toward cutting the projected deficit of $825-million at the start of the next budget.
But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said there's no such thing as a structural deficit if the economy grows -- and he wants his house to vote on the Walker tax cut February 11th. Vos said he'd like to have a public hearing late next week on the package -- which would cut the average property tax bill by $100-dollars, and annual income taxes by $44-to-$58 per filer.
In an hour-long speech last night Walker tried making the case for returning a bigger-than-expected surplus to taxpayers, calling it a "Blueprint for Prosperity." He said the economy is dramatically better than four years ago and quote, "People across the state tell me that one of the best ways to fuel the economic recovery is to reduce their tax burden."
State Representative Katrina Shankland from Stevens Point, referred to the Governor's plan as "shortsighted" and believes the surplus revenue should help reduce the state's structural deficit. She also wants to see more dollars reinvested in education at all levels.
Democrat Mary Burke, who's running against Walker this fall, said the governor's numbers are way too rosy. Burke agreed that some tax cuts are in order -- but she'd use more of the surplus to pay down the state's debt and build up the rainy day fund for emergencies. Walker's plan adds $100-million to that fund.
(Our interview with Katrina Shankland can be heard by clicking the hyperlink above.)