By SCOTT BAUER and TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker's two-year budget released Tuesday calls for a wide range of cuts, but no tax increases, to balance a $3.6 billion shortfall while also eliminating a number of Democratic-backed laws enacted in recent years. Here's a look at some of the highlights:
- Does not include any state sales or income tax increases and would limit schools and local governments on how much they could raise property taxes. Walker also said he wouldn't increase any fees.
- Creates a 100 percent exclusion from capital gains taxes for those who invest in Wisconsin-based businesses and hold those investments for at least five years.
- Cuts $500 million from Medicaid through a variety of reforms including increasing co-pays and deductibles, but not by reducing benefits across the board or cutting provider reimbursement rates.
- Cuts aid to schools by about $900 million and also reduces how much schools can collect from property taxes per student.
- Eliminates the requirement that schools be open 180 days a year, but retains the classroom hours mandate. The change would allow schools that want to meet for fewer, longer days to do so.
- Repeals the enrollment limit for the virtual charter school program and the Milwaukee school choice program.
- Allows the University of Wisconsin-Madison to split from the UW System and operate independently. The system would have to launch a study into allowing UW-Milwaukee to break off as well.
- Cuts aid to UW-Madison by $125 million and to the other 25 campuses in the system by $125 million.
- Ends the Wisconsin Covenant program, one of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's signature programs, on Sept. 30. The program promises financial aid for college to middle school students who promise to stay out of trouble and earn decent grades. Students who sign up for the program before Sept. 30 could still participate. Walker argues this change would protect other forms of financial aid from cuts.
- Children of illegal immigrants who attend state universities and colleges could no longer pay in-state tuition, a benefit granted in the 2009 budget by Democrats then in control of the Legislature and the governor's office.
- Cuts aid to technical colleges by 30 percent, or $72 million.
- Authorizes all four-year UW campuses to sponsor independent charter schools and allow charter schools to be created anywhere in the state.
- Provides $225 million to rebuilding the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee.
- Provides $195 million to continue reconstruction of Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Kenosha.
LAW AND ORDER
- Ends the ability of prison offenders to earn time off their sentences for good behavior, a change approved by Democrats.
- Ends the state Department of Corrections' ability to discharge an offender from parole after two years and from probation after serving half the sentence.
- Closes the Ethan Allen School, a detention facility for boys, and move inmates to Lincoln Hills School in Lincoln County.
- Closes the Southern Oaks Girls School, a detention facility for girls, and move the inmates to Copper Lake School at Lincoln Hills.
- Provides six new full-time DNA analysts at the state crime labs to prevent case backlogs.
- Adds 19 more staff members at the state Department of Justice to track down cyber predators.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
- Keeps hunting and fishing license fees unchanged.
- Scales back regulations to control phosphorus pollution to bring them in line with neighboring state's rules.
- Eliminates payments to local governments that lose property tax revenue following state Department of Natural Resources land stewardship purchases. Governments would be allowed to pass resolutions supporting or opposing purchases as a signal to the DNR, but the resolutions would not be binding. The Legislature's budget committee would have to approve stewardship purchases of more than $250,000.
- Ends requirements that a municipality or county run solid waste recycling programs and diverts state aid for such programs to other economic development efforts.
- State spending under the $28.7 billion plan would decrease 1.3 percent the first year then go up 5.3 percent in the second. Over the entire two-year budget spending would go up a paltry 1.3 percent.
- Cuts most state agency budgets, except for salary and benefits, by 10 percent.
- Eliminate 735 state positions that have been vacant for more than a year.
- Downsizes the state treasurer and secretary of state's offices, moving many of their existing duties elsewhere. The EdVest college savings program would be removed from the treasurer's office while the secretary of state office would lose its responsibility to handle trademark and trade name registrations and notary public commissions.
- Cuts aid to cities by $60 million, an 8.8 percent reduction, while counties would lose over $36 million, a 24 percent cut.
- Drops the state's ongoing budget shortfall from $2.5 billion to $250 million in four years, the smallest so-called "structural deficit" on record.
Source: Gov. Scott Walker's "Budget in Brief."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)