The 2013-2015 budget passed by the legislature continues last session’s path to financial responsibility.
Offering one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin history, I voted “Yes” for a budget that nearly doubled the governor’s proposed tax cut while keeping property taxes in check.
Supporting K-12 public education remains a top priority.
Specifically, there will be a $150 per pupil increase under revenue limits and an additional state funding of $150 per pupil categorical aid. Approximately 44 percent of all General Purpose Revenue collected will be spent on educating Wisconsin’s children.
Beginning in 2014, families with children in private schools will be eligible for a tax deduction on tuition expenses of up to $4,000 per year per pupil enrolled in K-8 and $10,000 per year per pupil enrolled in 9-12.
The Common Core State Standard Initiative, a program which attempts to bring each state’s diverse curriculum into alignment nationally, has been put on pause pending a Department of Public Instruction study and public hearings.
Also, following the disclosure that the University of Wisconsin System had over $1 billion unreported in reserve, college students and their families will see financial relief with a freeze in their tuition and fees for the biennium.
Without increasing state transportation taxes or fees, the budget invests in Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure.
Beginning in 2015, local governments will receive a 4 percent increase for general transportation aids (road aids), which includes the distribution or mileage aide rate for municipalities.
Homeowners will see a virtual freeze on their property taxes.
According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, median-valued homes will see a property tax increase of 0.99 percent in 2014 and a 0.98 percent increase in 2015.
Municipalities will receive help in aiding victims by expanding care and centers for domestic abuse victims and their children.
Counties will receive more grant money to develop treatment and diversion alternatives versus jail and prison sentences for non-violent offenders with drug and alcohol problems.
Child support collection funding and foster care reimbursement rates were also addressed in the budget.
Both the Wisconsin Veterans Homes at King and Union Grove will be adding additional staff.
King will be adding 110 positions including 83 direct care staff and 27 support staff.
From legislation I authored last session, Wisconsin will be extending the property tax credit granted to certain disabled veterans to include an unremarried surviving spouse of an individual who is eligible for, and receives, dependency and indemnity compensation from the federal government due to his or her spouse’s status as a veteran whose death was service-connected.
A transfer of $5.3 million will be made from General Purpose Revenue (GPR) to the veteran’s trust fund.
Every other year a report will be submitted to the Joint Finance Committee relaying the trust fund’s solvency.
Residency requirements mandating public employees live within a jurisdiction have been eliminated. However, safety personnel may be required to live within 15 miles of the jurisdiction’s borders.
FoodShare has been reformed in the budget as well.
Able-bodied adults will be required to find work or participate in work-training programs to receive benefits.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2016, just as every state agency is obligated, local municipalities will be required to post expenditures of taxpayer dollars on the state web portal OpenBook.
The 2013-2015 budget invests in our state’s future while tax paying families will keep more of their money with one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin history.