After weeks of unveiling his 2013-15 budget proposal piece by piece, Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) laid out his full proposal to the State Legislature on Wednesday night.
The budget proposes $68 billion in spending over the next two years.That’s a 3% increase in 2013-14 and a 2.1% increase in 2014-15.
“Going into this budget, we face a much different set of circumstances than we did two years ago," said Walker.
Unlike two years ago when Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion deficit, the state goes into this next budget with a nearly $500 million surplus.
Walker says that's why he's proposing a $343 million state income tax cut. That’s about $272 a year for a family with 2 parents, 2 kids and a combbined income of $80,000.
"I want to cut taxes over and over again until we are leading the country in economic recovery," he said.
Walker pledged a $475 million boost for public schools, with a significant portion of that money being based on performance.
“We want to recognize and reward excellence and replicate it in other places," he said.
In a video response posted on YouTube, State Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said it's still not enough.
“Local public schools across the state have been struggling to make ends meet. It's time to renew our committment to our children's future and provide adequate funding to ensure that all children have access to quality education,” said Shilling.
The governor is also proposing expanding school vouchers state-wide to districts with failing schools.
"In the end, our goal is simple: ensure every child - regardless of where they are from or what their family income is - has access to a great education," said Walker.
State Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) says it's a risky investment.
“My concern is that with our precious tax dollars, we really can't afford to support two different systems. We have a public school system that works well and to expand vouchers to areas rather than invest in the schools that already exist is a bad idea," said Billings.
The budget has already gone over to the Joint Finance Committee, where legislators will begin picking apart each proposal. Eventually, the budget must be approved by both the State Assembly and State Senate.