After spending weeks rolling out aspects of his 2017-19 budget proposal, Governor Scott Walker delivered his budget address this afternoon in front of a joint session of the state legislature.
Walker said his budget, which increases spending in a number of key areas and reduces taxes, is made possible by an improving economy and prudent fiscal management – which he calls the “Reform Dividend.” He centered the speech on three main themes: student success, accountable government, and rewarding work
Walker’s budget includes large investments in K-12 and higher education. It increases K-12 spending by $649 million, reduces tuition for in-state students at UW System campuses for the first time ever, and adds $105.2 million in state funding for UW – much of it tied to individual campuses’ performance.
The budget also cuts taxes by nearly $600 million by reducing the lowest two tax rates, putting more of the earnings of a middle income family into a lower tax bracket, and eliminating the state’s share of the property tax. The budget also invests more money in local road maintenance and rural broadband.
In addition, the budget includes a variety of new welfare reform measures, a plan he calls “Wisconsin Works for Everyone.” The plan adds new work requirements for those receiving government assistance and includes various provisions that make it easier to transition from welfare to the workforce.
In the coming weeks, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) will begin to review the plan, the beginning of the long budgeting process in the legislature.