WISCREPORT.COM (10/26/07) - Joined by students, local officials, business leaders and other Wisconsin citizens at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law a budget that invests in the University System and puts Wisconsin on the path to permanent fiscal stability.
In addition to cutting state operations by more than $200 million, the budget cuts advance commitments and one time spending nearly in half, and will have $120 million in reserves at the end of this biennium.
“This budget will open the gates of higher education to more hardworking students; make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy; provide health insurance to every child in Wisconsin; and protect our kids from the scourge of big tobacco,” Governor Doyle said. “It is a balanced budget that embodies the values of the people of this great state and keeps Wisconsin moving forward.”
Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a budget that will streamline government, cut taxes and put Wisconsin on a permanent path for fiscal stability.
The new Wisconsin budget includes targeted tax cuts so families can deduct more of what they pay for health care, child care, and college. It ends the tax on Social Security benefits and has tight property tax limits. In the last two years, Wisconsin families saw the smallest property tax increases in a decade. This budget builds on that progress, holding property tax increases to less than the rate of inflation for the average home.
While the Governor made only a handful of vetoes as part of this budget – fewer than any governor in over 35 years – he did use his veto pen to support police and fire services in Milwaukee and local communities across Wisconsin.
To do that the Governor will continue tight limits on property taxes, but provide a little more leeway for local communities by changing the levy formula for local government – protecting police and firefighters, and critical funding for Wisconsin technical colleges as well, an important economic engine.
The 2007-2009 Budget fully funds the University’s Growth Agenda to expand enrollment and train the next generation of nurses, engineers, chemists, biologists, and skilled workers.
“The states that will be doing well 10, 15, and 20 years from now are those that have the highly-skilled workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow,” Governor Doyle said.
“The UW Growth Agenda will produce more nurses to provide care to our citizens, more teachers to educate our future generations, more researchers to pursue innovation, and more engineers to build a vibrant and dynamic state,” Governor Doyle explained.
The budget signed by the Governor invests $32 million in financial aid so talented students who have earned their way into Wisconsin’s universities have the resources they need to help them succeed.
The funding puts the state on pace to triple financial aid by the end of this fiscal term. It also keeps a promise to provide free college tuition to all Wisconsin veterans by investing $12 million in our colleges and universities.
To help students, the budget dramatically expands the tuition tax deduction, saving families up to $400 off their tax bill when fully implemented. Students and families throughout the UW system, technical colleges and private colleges will be able to use this deduction not only for tuition, but for fees as well.
The budget meets Wisconsin’s commitment to fund two-thirds the cost of every child’s education – protecting schools while taking the burden off of property taxpayers. It makes sure kids get off to the right start, by investing $3 million in four-year-old kindergarten, $3.2 million in school breakfast, and $27 million to create smaller class sizes in the early grades.
The 2007-2009 Budget moves forward on the Wisconsin Covenant – a promise to eighth graders that if they work hard, maintain a B average, and take the classes they need to go to college, there will be a spot for them in the state’s universities or colleges.
“In this budget we will invest in the God-given potential of every child in this state by expanding four year old kindergarten, increasing school breakfasts, making class sizes smaller, and creating a Department of Children and Families that is focused on the needs and health of our future generations,” Governor Doyle said.
The budget signed by the Governor ensures that at least 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens have access to health coverage – more than any other state in the nation. BadgerCare Plus offers every Wisconsin family the opportunity to buy affordable health coverage for their child, starting at about $10 a month. It also expands coverage to more than 70,000 hardworking adults.
The budget makes health care more affordable by making every dollar families pay in health premiums completely tax free.
The budget increases the cigarette tax by $1 to reduce smoking rates, dedicates new funds to pay the cost of tobacco-related illness and invests $30 million in smoking prevention and cessation programs.
“In this budget we will move forward with meaningful comprehensive health care reform. We will provide health insurance to every single child in this state; make health care more affordable for families by letting them deduct the full cost of their premiums; and reduce smoking rates and stop kids from trying their first cigarette,” said Governor Doyle.
The 2007-2009 Budget includes $15 million in the second year to make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy and the fight against global warming. It also reauthorizes the Stewardship Fund at $85 million per year for 10 years.
It provides tax credits to grow and expand Wisconsin’s bio-industry, tax credits to modernize and expand Wisconsin’s cheese industry, and a tax exemption directed at Wisconsin’s manufacturers to help them with their energy costs.
The budget also increases funding for job training programs so workers can get ahead, with 75 percent of the money devoted toward manufacturing.
“With this budget we create real opportunity for every Wisconsin citizen – the opportunity to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them,” Governor Doyle said.