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UPDATE: Huge budget surplus sets off feeding frenzy

UPDATED Thursday, January 16, 2014 --- 4:23 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- News that Wisconsin's budget surplus is projected to top $977 million is setting off a feeding frenzy in the Capitol among lobbyists, special interest groups, and lawmakers.

Gov. Scott Walker is saying he wants to return the money to taxpayers in the form of property and income tax cuts.

But Democrats and liberal advocacy groups said Thursday the money should be used to help the middle class with programs that will put people back to work. There are also calls to increase spending on public schools and higher education and plug spending holes in the Medicaid program.

Republican Senate President Mike Ellis says "everybody and their cousins from other states" will be trying to get a piece of the money.

Walker is to release his tax cut plan Wednesday.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, January 16, 2014 --- 2:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's budget surplus is projected to be about $1 billion by mid-2015.

The updated figures were provided to The Associated Press on Thursday by two sources briefed by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to release the figures.

Gov. Scott Walker is working with Republican legislative leaders on a tax cut proposal using a portion of the surplus. He plans to unveil the plan in his State of the State speech on Wednesday. Walker has said it will cut property and income taxes, but he's not yet released details.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he wants to use some of the money to reduce technical college property tax levies, replacing that revenue with money from the state.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, January 16, 2014 --- 9:48 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he wants to tap a state surplus to reduce property taxes levied and collected by technical colleges in Wisconsin.

Vos tells The Associated Press on Thursday that he is pushing for that approach with Gov. Scott Walker. The governor says he plans to use the surplus to cut property taxes and income taxes, but he won't release details until his State of the State speech on Wednesday.

Vos says "buying down" the technical college levy would be the best way to provide property tax relief statewide without creating big winners and losers.

Technical colleges levied about $796 million in property taxes this fiscal year.

The new state tax collection estimates were to be released later Thursday.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 --- 6:45 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Updated budget figures for Wisconsin expected to show a surplus nearing $1 billion are on the way.

Policy makers are anxiously awaiting the figures due to be released Thursday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Gov. Scott Walker plans to announce his plans for the surplus during his State of the State speech on Jan. 22. But his spokeswoman says the governor is eyeing property and income tax cuts.

News of the surplus comes as Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature are preparing to stand for re-election in November.

Democrats are already raising concerns about Walker's plan to cut taxes, saying he instead should be focused on finding ways to create jobs.

The Legislature last year cut income taxes by $650 million and property taxes by $100 million.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


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