MADISON, Wis. — The two-year state budget passed by the Republican-controlled Senate early Friday now heads to Gov. Scott Walker. He has the power to make significant changes through his line-item veto. The Senate did not make any changes to the plan before passing it on a 17-16 vote.
Here are some highlights of what's in the two-year, $70 billion budget:
INCOME TAX CUT
Income taxes would be cut by about $650 million over the next two years, rates in all brackets would be cut, and the number of brackets would shrink from five to four. The average tax cut for all filers in 2014 would be $152, but more than half of the tax cut benefit would go to those earning over $100,000 a year.
The private school voucher program, currently offered only in Racine and Milwaukee, would extend statewide. Vouchers allow public school students to attend private and religious schools using a taxpayer-funded subsidy.
Enrollment outside of Milwaukee and Racine would be capped at just 500 students next school year and 1,000 for every year after that. A new income tax deduction for all families with children in private school is also created.
PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING
Spending in public schools would increase $150 per pupil in each of the next two years. Walker had proposed no increase, and Democrats called for $275 per student. The increase comes after an $800 million cut in per-pupil spending in Walker's last budget. State aid to schools would increase by about 1 percent.
Wisconsin would reject a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, as Walker wanted, despite calls from numerous health care advocacy groups to take the money and cover about 85,000 more adults in the program.
Had Walker accepted the federally funded expansion, people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 for a single person, would have been covered under the state's BadgerCare Medicaid program. The budget would only cover adults up to 100 percent of poverty, or about $11,500 a year.
Currently, BadgerCare covers people earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level, or $22,980, but there is a cap on enrollment for single adults. The budget would lift that cap for those at or below poverty level.