MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker announced the details Wednesday night of his highly anticipated budget proposal. It includes his detailed plan for an income tax cut.
"You, the hardworking taxpayers of this state helped to create the budget surplus, so it is only right that we put more money back into your hands," said Walker.
The Republican governor says right now, income taxes in Wisconsin are 26 percent higher than the national average. He wants to change that.
"Our middle class tax cut is a down payment on my goal of reducing the tax burden in our state every year I'm in office. I want to cut taxes over and over and over again until we are leading the country in economic recovery," said Walker.
The governor's plan would lower the income tax rates for the bottom three tax brackets - basically for everyone making less than $215,000 per year. Those rates would go down one or two tenths of a percent. The total tax cut would add up to $343 million. Walker said a family of four making $80,000 a year would save $106 a year - a little more than $2 a week.
"When you're talking about an average cut of $200 over two years, what are you talking a candy bar a week or something?" said State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.
The state senator says the way the income tax cut is structured, people with higher incomes will see the most benefit.
"It's not a whole lot. It seems like a political ploy. He is running in 2014 and it makes good press because he can say he's giving a tax cut. But people have to realize it's not going to make a huge difference in their lives and maybe that money could be spent better doing something else," added Hansen.
"Putting more dollars back into the pockets of the middle class, working Wisconsinites will actually help drive our economy," said State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
Nygren, who sits on the Joint Finance Committee, says the governor's proposal is simply the starting point.
"We're going to take a look at ways we can save a little bit more here and there to make that even a potentially bigger tax cut," said Nygren.
Walker's speech is just the first step in the budget process. It will now to go the Joint Finance Committee where it is expected to undergo some changes. But since Republicans control the Legislature, chances are the final version of the income tax cut will be similar to what the governor talked about Wednesday night.