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Wisconsin's surplus should go to taxpayers



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February 04, 2014 | 03:04 PM
By now you’ve probably heard that Wisconsin’s state budget is facing a sizeable surplus.

I know it’s probably hard to believe, especially with all of the problems we’re seeing in Washington, like record deficits and partisan gridlock. However, the story is much different here in Wisconsin.

Why the difference?

Well, we’ve taken a much different approach in Madison since 2010 when both Gov. Scott Walker and I were first elected. We understand that the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.

That’s why we’ve done what we can to improve the job creation climate and reduce the tax burden. In fact, private sector job creation between April and December 2013 was best since 1994. Also, Wisconsin ranked as the fourth best state in the country for personal income growth from the second quarter to the third quarter in 2013.

The result?

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) just announced Wisconsin is facing a $976 million surplus. It is important to point out that the surplus is the result of taxpayers paying too much — not that the government has spent too little.

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LFB said this is one of the largest mid-budget surpluses in recent memory and it means our budgeting reforms are working.

As you may know, Gov. Walker has come out with his plan for the surplus, which he is calling the Blueprint for Prosperity. The plan returns the surplus money to the taxpayers in a fiscally responsible way, which I fully support.

Simply put, I believe we need to get your money out of Madison, because there are plenty of people in Madison that want to spend it.

Specifically, the plan has two major components that will benefit taxpayers. The first is tax relief. The plan will increase the state’s share of funding the tech colleges, thereby reducing the portion that homeowners pay on their property tax bills.

This property tax relief will be spread equally across the state and will result in savings of about $100 for a median value home. In addition, the plan will once again reduce income tax rates, this time by $100 million.

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Second, $440 million of the surplus will go toward improving our fiscal health by increasing the rainy day fund and reducing the income tax withholding tables.

This will mark the third consecutive deposit into rainy day fund, thus increasing it to the largest balance in state history at $279 million.

In addition, the state will adjust the income tax withholding tables, which until now, resulted in the state withholding 20 percent more than it needed.

The result of this reform will mean bigger paychecks and a better budgeting practice for the state.

I encourage you to visit www.prosperity.wi.gov to calculate how much you’ll be saving under our plan.

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When enacted, it will mark the third time in a year we’ve cut taxes, resulting in nearly $2 billion in tax relief.

I look forward to continuing these policies in the future.

August, a Republican, represents the 32nd Assembly District, which covers most of southern Walworth County. Currently serving his second term, August is also the Assembly speaker pro tempore.

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