Scott Walker to propose 'significant' tax cuts

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Associated Press
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MADISON—Gov. Scott Walker said he plans to propose “significant” income and property tax cuts in his State of the State address next week, reductions made possible by tax collections that far exceed earlier estimates, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Walker won't reveal details until his speech on Jan. 22, but he is looking at changing income tax withholding tables to immediately put more money into workers' paychecks, his spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said.

“This is great news for the hardworking taxpayers of the state,” she said.

Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature have been discussing details of the proposal, Webster said. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald did not immediately return messages for comment Wednesday.

While Vos has been vocal in his support for using any surplus to cut taxes, Fitzgerald has been more cautious, saying some members of his caucus may want to put the money in savings or use it to address infrastructure needs such as road and bridge repairs.

Just how large the state's surplus will be won't be clear until the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau releases its updated estimate. Bureau director Bob Lang said Wednesday he was working to get it out as soon as possible, but couldn't say when it would be released.

Based on Department of Revenue figures, the surplus in tax collections between now and the end of June will likely be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars, Webster said.

Walker has repeatedly said he wants to cut taxes every year he is in office. Last year he proposed, and the Legislature approved, a $650 million income tax cut as well as a $100 million property tax cut.

The income tax cut passed last year will increase the refund for the average filer by $158 this year. The property tax cut's impact varies widely across the state, but for the typical homeowner it reduced the amount the homeowner owed last year by $13 and $20 next year.

The timing for large tax cuts couldn't be better for Walker and Republican lawmakers as they face re-election in November. Walker is being challenged by Democrat Mary Burke, a former state Commerce Department secretary and executive with Trek Bicycle Corp.

A spokesman for Burke's campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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