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Highlights of Wisconsin’s state budget

By SCOTT BAUER and TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Senate is expected to give final approval to the state budget on Wednesday. After that, it will head to Gov. Tony Evers, who can sign it into law with no changes, sign it with alterations made through his partial-veto powers, or veto the entire plan.

Here’s what is included in the two-year spending plan:

TAX CUTS: Income taxes would be cut by more than $450 million over two years — an average saving of $91 per person in 2019 and $124 in 2020. The lowest tax bracket would be reduced from 4% to 3.76% in 2020. The second-lowest bracket would be reduced from 5.84% to 4.93% in 2020.

PROPERTY TAXES: Property taxes on a median-valued $174,000 home would increase $55 in the first year of the budget and $44 in the second. Actual property taxes vary widely, based on where a person lives and how much is levied by local taxing entities such as school districts and cities.

K-12 SCHOOLS: Schools would receive a $500 million spending boost over the next two years. That is less than the $639 million they got in the previous budget and a fraction of the $1.4 billion Evers wanted. Funding for special education would go up nearly $100 million, a sixth of the $606 million that Evers wanted. Republicans also rejected Evers’ call to overhaul the school funding formula. While Republicans said they wanted the state to provide two-thirds of the funding for schools, the budget falls just short at about 65%.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: The UW System would get $58 million, $45 million of which would only be released after lawmakers approve the university’s spending plan. That’s far less than university officials expected after weeks of discussions with lawmakers, below the $60 million cost-to-continue and short of the $150 million Evers proposed. Republicans did agree with Evers’ call to continue the tuition freeze, already in its sixth year, for at least two more years.

PAY INCREASES: State workers will see 2% annual pay increases each of the next two years, just as Evers proposed.

HEALTH CARE: Republicans approved a $77 million increase for the Wisconsin Shares program that provides money to working parents for child care, $30 million more for nursing homes, an additional $37 million for personal care workers and $27 million more for direct caregivers in the Family Care program. In total, the budget increases health care funding by $588 million. Republicans rejected Evers’ call to expand Medicaid and leverage $1.6 billion in federal funding.

STEWARDSHIP: Republicans retained Evers’ proposal to extend the Department of Natural Resources’ land purchasing program through mid-2022.

JUVENILE OFFENDERS: Evers called for an additional $90 million in bonding to build new state-run facilities to house serious juvenile offenders after Wisconsin’s Lincoln Hills youth prison near Irma closes. Republicans eliminated the provision, saying they want to address funding for the new centers in a separate bill later this year. Under a separate bill, the closure of Lincoln Hills would be delayed for six months until July 2021. Evers has said he needs even more time.

NEW PRISON: Republicans set out $5 million to purchase land and start the bidding process for building a new prison to replace the aging Green Bay Correctional Institution.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS: Republicans approved funding for a 14% pay increase for prison guards in an effort to deal with staffing shortages that has led to an abundance of overtime.

TOTAL SPENDING: Total spending under the budget would increase 5.4% over two years. That is less than the 8.3% Evers put forward in his original plan.

TIMING: The current budget ends on Sunday. Current spending will continue until the next budget is signed into law. There is no government shutdown if there is a stalemate.

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