LA CROSSE, Wis. - Wisconsin's new state budget went into effect Monday.
Gov. Scott Walker signed off on the $70 billion 2013-2015 budget Sunday afternoon.
The budget includes the largest individual income tax cut in the state in 14 years: $650 million.
Walker said the majority of those cuts are aimed at the middle class.
That's not how State Sen. Jennifer Shilling sees it.20795272
"People making over $300,000 in the state will see an income tax cut of $1,500 while middle class families making between $40,000 and $50,000 will see less than $100," said Shilling.
"The Democrats argue that this is a tax cut that goes mostly to the rich. And, dollar-wise, that's true. But that's also where most of our taxes come from," said University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim.
The budget also rejects federal money to expand the BadgerCare Plus health plan.
"Roughly 85,000 people will be taken off the roles. The governor feels that people should not be so reliant on government," said Heim.
Turning to education, the budget freezes the UW System's tuition for two years and expands the school voucher system statewide. The first year, the expansion will be capped at 500 students statewide and at 1,000 students the year after that.
"So you're not talking about any massive expansion of school vouchers. But I think the perception is, once it's there, it will expand," said Heim.
The budget also increases state aid to technical colleges. It includes a $5 million increase in general aid and gives technical colleges more flexibility over $22 million of existing worker training funds.
The budget also contains an initiative to collect DNA at arrest.
"It's just to help law enforcement solve more of these crimes that in the past have been unsolvable and holding people accountable for the crimes that they're committing," said La Crosse Police Sgt. Randy Rank.
Walker vetoed 57 provisions in the budget.
"The governor used his veto pen on two things that I do appreciate -- the fact that the governor vetoed bail bondsmen and bounty hunters in the state," said Shilling. "I'm pleased that he vetoed the eviction of the Center for Investigative Journalism, and evicting them off the campus off of the campus of UW System. I think that is an issue that is better dealt with through the Board of Regents."
The governor also vetoed a provision he actually put into the budget in the first place back in February.
It would have charged state employees who smoke an extra $50 a month for their health insurance.
"Budgets have winners and losers. The Republicans won the majority in the State Assembly and the State Senate, and they have the governorship and they have the legal right to put together a budget that is favorable to their constituency," said Heim.
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