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Walker 2013-15 budget highlights

Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday unveiled details of his $343 million income tax cut, plans to prohibit local governments from imposing residency requirements on their employees and ending “double dipping” by state employees, among other things.

The following are some other highlights of new proposals Walker included in his budget as pulled from the Budget in Brief document.

--A $343 million income tax cut through a reduction in the bottom three of Wisconsin’s five income tax rates: the current marginal rate of 4.6 percent on taxable income for single people making up to $10,750 and married couples filing jointly that make up to $14,330; the rate of 6.15 percent for singles on income between $10,750 and $21,490 and married couples between $14,330 and $28,650; and 6.5 percent for singles on income between $21,490 and $161,180 and married couples on income between $28,650 and $214,910. The 4.6 percent rate would drop to 4.5 percent; the 6.15 percent rate would drop to 5.94 percent; and the 6.5 percent rate would drop to 6.36 percent. The plan doesn't change the top rates, but the administration says those in the top brackets will benefit from the lower rates on their taxable income in those ranges.

The typical family of four with income of $80,607 would see savings of $212 over the biennium, $106 in each year of the budget. That family’s tax liability under current law would be $3,510 per year.

*Limit property tax increases by maintaining county and municipal levy limits to the greater of the percentage of equalized value due to net new construction or zero percent if there was a net construction loss, while requiring a two-thirds vote to carry over unused prior year capacity. The budget also would subject tech college districts to similar limits, while shared revenue would be maintained at current levels for counties and municipalities.

*Increase the size of state government by the equivalent of about 710 employees from all funds. The Department of Health Services would see the biggest boost with 280 full time equivalent positions added to expand community-based mental health services, improve integrity and efficiency in the Medicaid program and meet new requirements under the federal Affordable Health Care Act.

The Transportation Department would also see 180 new engineering and support positions to reduce the agency’s costs paid to outside consultants by $5.6 million annually.

The Revenue Department would receive $12.6 million also add new workers to crack down on fraud and collect delinquent taxes, among other things. The administration estimates those additions would bring in $88.7 million.

The veterans home at King would add 110 full-time equivalents, while and 40 positions would be added to operate the renovated Gates Hall at the vets home in Union Grove.

*Cover the $824 million boost for the transportation fund through $200 million in general fund supported borrowing, $107 million in segregated fund supported borrowing, a one-time $23 million transfer from the general fund, $32 million from the Petroleum Inspection Fund and moving transit aids out of the transportation fund and into the general fund beginning in the second year of the budget.

To help pay off the general fund supported bonds, Walker proposes the sale of state property with exceptions for prisons, parks and land owned by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands unless prohibited by federal or state law. Property included in the potential pool includes power plants, an idea that Walker first raised in his budget repair bill two years ago, but later dropped amid public outcry because the original idea didn't include a requirement for competitive bidding.

*No broad-based fee increases. Walker stressed in the speech that he didn't include a gas tax or vehicle registration fee increase.

*A new property tax exemption for biogas energy generation systems, a similar exemption to those now on the books for wind and solar systems.

*A new Office of the Inspector General in the Corrections Department.

*Increase nursing home reimbursement rates by $26 million all funds.

*A new electronic benefit card for those on W-2 to access benefits as a way to limit fraud. The program would eventually expand to include child care subsidies.

*Change how the state contracts building projects to make "single prime contracting" the default project delivery method. Under that approach, contractors would compete for the bid and then be allowed to choose the subcontractors they want. The current default model includes bids for the overall project as well as subcontractors.

Read the Budget in Brief.

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