Hraychuck: Tough Times Ahead
(Article by. Rep. Ann Hraychuck)
Governor Doyle introduced his 2009-11 state budget on February 17. Wisconsin, like so many other states, is facing record deficits. We have inherited the largest state deficit in the history of Wisconsin at $5.7 billion, and we are working very hard to balance the budget, create jobs, and turn the economy around.
Governor Doyle has proposed $2.2 billion in budget cuts, including $931 million from existing programs. This is in addition to an across the board one percent decrease in all state spending. Possible reductions include cutting back on state grants, closing some Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) locations, only issuing one license plate per vehicle, and lowering the number of processors at the Department of Revenue.
However it is important to remember that this is not the final state budget. Currently, it is being reviewed by the Joint Finance Committee, a bi-partisan committee that will review the budget and make recommendations for changes. Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing the Governor’s budget and evaluating what is best for our district and state. There will be opportunities for public discussion about the budget in the near future, and I encourage you to participate in them when the public hearing dates are announced.
Although cuts are unavoidable, we are working hard to ensure that Wisconsin remains competitive in education, technology and business. K-12 education is one of the only areas that will be receiving an increase in funding within the budget. We must keep investing in our schools and make sure that costs do not get transferred to property tax payers. Additionally, UW System students who come from households with an income less than $60,000 will not face a tuition increase. Cost should never stop anyone from attending college.
The Assembly is also taking action to get the economy moving again. On February 18, the Assembly passed the state stimulus plan which devotes $300 million to our transportation system. With over $6 million in Polk and Burnett Counties, these shovel-ready projects include work on both US Highway 8 and State Highway 70 in Burnett County. These transportation projects will immediately create jobs and update Wisconsin’s infrastructure.
Additionally, the stimulus plan includes a number of important tax credits to promote development and aid growth in Wisconsin’s agricultural and technological sectors. Both the dairy cooperative investment credit and the meat processing facility credit will allow a tax credit to be claimed for 10 percent of modernization or expansion expenses.
Again, it is important to stress that these are incredibly difficult times and the upcoming decisions will be tough. Compromise will be crucial. But with aggressive and decisive action we can balance the budget and get our economy back on track.
If you would like more information on the state budget, or have other legislative concerns, please feel free to contact me toll-free at 1-888-529-0028 or by e-mailing me at Rep.Hraychuck@legis.wisconsin.gov.