Walker vows next budget will cut income taxes

2013-01-11T11:20:00Z Walker vows next budget will cut income taxesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 11, 2013 11:20 am  • 

Republican Gov. Scott Walker promised Thursday that his next executive budget will slash income taxes, but he called those cuts just a "down payment" on future ones he hopes to phase in as the Wisconsin economy grows.

Walker told reporters after a speech at a Wisconsin Bankers Association economic forecast luncheon he'll include what he called a "significant" income tax cut in the spending plan. In his remarks to the association he called the cut a "down payment," telling reporters later he'd like to return more money to consumers as the economy expands.

"It's incredibly important for us to continue our economic growth in the state, and because of our tough decisions in the last few years we're going to be in a position to do that," the governor said.

Walker also has talked about enacting some form of property tax relief. He said Thursday he wants to keep what he termed a sustainable level of property taxes in place, adding he doesn't want income tax cuts to lead to property tax increases.

The governor said he wasn't concerned about the income tax cuts adding to the state's so called structural deficit, the difference between what the state has committed to spend long-term and expected revenue. The governor pledged "we'll pay as we go."

He didn't offer any further details, saying he would reveal more in his State of the State address next week.

He is scheduled to introduce the budget to the Legislature next month. From there the spending plan will go to the Legislature's finance committee.

That panel will spend weeks revising, editing and tweaking the budget. When the committee finishes its work the budget will go next to the full Assembly and Senate. Both houses will have to agree on an identical version of the plan before it can go back to Walker for his signature.

Walker's fellow Republicans control both the Assembly and Senate.

Walker also said Thursday the budget won't contain any plans for carpool toll lanes.

He said high-occupancy toll lanes might be an option in the future in congested areas as long as people wouldn't be forced to use them. But he says the move would take federal approval and he won't include any provisions in his budget.

Walker's administration is grappling with how to fund road projects as more efficient cars lead to dwindling gas tax revenue. He has ruled out raising that tax and creating full-fledged toll roads.

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