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State budget builds on reforms

July 10, 2013

Our goal for this budget was to create an environment for the private sector to expand the workforce and reduce government red tape. This budget continues our priority of reform by improving the unemployment insurance system, and pays off interest to the federal government. It gives a significant increase to our public schools and still holds the line on property taxes.

The 2013-2015 State Budget builds on the reforms from last session to help make government smaller, more efficient, that treats people fairly and cuts down on fraud. The state budget will:

· cut income taxes (more than $665 million); almost doubling the governor's proposed cut

· increase investment in child support collection, to ensure more parents are responsible for supporting their own children — instead of making it the responsibility of taxpayers

· ensure Wisconsin's utility rate payers won't be forced to subsidize the Milwaukee trolley proposal

· reform the state food stamp benefit program by requiring able-bodied adults to find work or participate in work-training programs to receive benefits

· freezes UW tuition and fees for two years. It also puts in place accountability measures for the UW-System and the size of its reserves.

Two years ago our business leaders were struggling with severely increased taxes, only 10 percent thought Wisconsin was headed in the right direction. We faced a $3.6 billion deficit. Unemployment was over 9 percent as around 150,000 jobs left the state. Instead of kicking the can down the road, we rolled up our sleeves and made tough decisions — decisions that are now paying off for taxpayers and job creators.

After the reforms of the last budget, we've seen our revenues have increased, and our state has a surplus. Jobs are coming back. Thanks to that surplus we were able to give most of it back to the taxpayers in the form of a $665 million income tax cut. And last week, we learned that Wisconsin has jumped eleven spots in job creation and has added more than 60,000 private sector jobs. Things are pointing up again in our great state and this budget will continue to move us forward.

This budget improves our communities, such as making investments in child support enforcement, treatment alternatives, drug courts, domestic abuse grants and mental health initiatives. The budget freezes UW tuition and fees. It supports our veterans by stabilizing the Veterans Trust Fund, increasing staffing at veterans homes, maintaining tax exemptions and providing additional reimbursement for veterans attending certain colleges.

Put simply, this budget plan allows us to move Wisconsin forward. It contains one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin history, nearly doubles the governor's proposed tax cut — to more than $665 million, and holds the line on property taxes. This budget will help continue the momentum of our state's economy.

Senator Darling, R-River Hills, represents the 8th Senate District which includes portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties.

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