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This is what stability looks like



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Kedzie (click for larger version)
June 29, 2011 | 07:00 AM
The Legislature has now acted and adopted a revised version of Gov. Scott Walker's 2011-13 state budget, and after all the heartburn and headache of attempting to produce a balanced budget, the budget heading to the Governor's desk is not only in balance, it's in the black for the first time in more than a decade.

But more than that, the new state budget does so without raising taxes, while at the same time, protects core funding for many state programs. Here are just a few highlights of the budget.

Back in black. According to the Legislature's non-partisan Fiscal Bureau, the 2011-13 state budget eliminates the $3.6 billion budget deficit, nearly wipes out the entire structural deficit, and actually creates a $306 million surplus over the next two years.

No state tax increases. The budget is balanced and the deficit is eliminated without any increase to the income, sales, business, or excise tax. In addition, the budget makes several positive changes to the state tax code to create incentives for job creation and growth, and overall reduces taxes by $24 million.

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Paying the bills. With the new projections of more than $600 million of increased revenue, the Legislature acted to pay back the $235 million owed to the medical malpractice fund, which was illegally raided by the previous governor and legislature, and settles the money owed to Minnesota through the two state's income tax reciprocity deal, which the previous administration failed to pay.

Less borrowing. The current budget dramatically reduces state borrowing from the previous budget, reducing the state's credit card debt by nearly $2 billion.

Keeping property taxes in check. For the first time in state history, Wisconsin will have a permanent property tax freeze in place, as created in the budget. In addition, the budget keeps property tax increases below 1 percent in 2011 and 2012.

Helping those who need help. The budget preserves and protects core services to the elderly, disabled and sick by fully funding the SeniorCare prescription drug program and increasing Medical Assistance funding by $1.2 billion.

Green for green. The budget sets funding for the Stewardship Program at $60 million each year through 2020 for the purchase of outdoor recreational land, restores funding for the popular recycling program to $19 million a year, and increases funding for lake management planning grants.

This budget puts Wisconsin back on stable economic ground and lays the foundation for recovery, growth and prosperity – not only for the next two years, but for years to come. It also sends a message that the days of spending beyond our means and taxing families and businesses for careless budget decisions are over.

Wisconsin has been plagued with multi-billion dollar deficits for the last eight years and the tough decisions that should have been made years ago are finally being made today. Two years ago, our state was on shaky economic ground and heading in the wrong direction. Today, with the passage of the budget, the state plots a new course toward economic stability.

Sen. Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free 1 (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or on-line at www.senatorkedzie.com

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