"From day one, Republicans have promised to focus on jobs, to stop the unchecked growth of government, and to bring real reform to the broken status quo. With this budget, Gov. Walker is proving that we will keep those promises."More >>
MADISON (WKOW) -- "The time has come for us to make the tough choices necessary to put our state back on the path to prosperity."
Aiming to plug a $3.6 billion gap over the next two year, Gov. Scott Walker says he has no choice but to reduce state spending.
Perhaps the single biggest loser is the state's public school system. Over the next two years funding will drop by nearly 8 percent, or $834 million.
Then there's almost $100 million to counties and cities for the fiscal year 2012.
And there's a provision in the bill that essentially forbids schools and local communities from raising property taxes to make up the difference.
"Specifically, our budget reduces all funds spending by $4.2 billion, or 6.7 percent, and decreases the structural deficit by 90 percent from $2.5 billion to $250 million -- the lowest structural deficit in recent history," Walker said.
Walker says his reforms to the state's public union labor laws -- which will all but bar collective bargaining, along with increases in pension and health insurance contributions -- will more than make up for the cuts.
"It's true we are reducing aid to local government by just over one and a quarter billion dollars," he said. "But we are providing almost $1.5 billion in savings through our budget repair bill."
Another major cut is in Medicaid, where Walker says he'll cut spending by $500 million.
As for layoffs, Walker says few state workers will lose their jobs -- although 735 full-time jobs that have been vacant for more than 12 months will be eliminated.
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