February 8, 2016

Tax cuts likely to feature in ‘State of the State’

Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to deliver his third “State of the State” address Tuesday night, and Capitol observers don’t have a lot to go as they attempt to what Walker’s maine themes might be. But the Republican governor has made numerous comments in recent weeks on one topic that’s clearly important to him: tax cuts. “For us, one of the biggest bangs for our buck is dropping the individual income tax rate,” Walker recently told the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s annual Economic Forecast luncheon. “We’re committed to doing that.”

That narrowed down comments Walker had made earlier, that he might also consider a property tax cut, or a combination of the two, in his state budget. “There’ll definitely be a significant income tax cut there,” Walker said “I think we’ll want to keep in place a sustainable level of property taxes as well, so that we don’t see a decrease in one and an increase in the other. The details we’ll talk about in the budget, but I think both are important.”

Walker said any income tax cut would be a “down payment” for further cuts later on. He didn’t specify how much the initial cut might be. He also discounted any concerns that a tax cut could send the state back into a structural budget deficit.

“What we’re going to do . . . is make a commitment verbally,” he said. “We’re going to pay as we go. So the things that we put in this budget, we’ll account for in terms of tax cuts, and then in the future we’ll identify how we’ll take care of that in the next budget.”

There’s one topic which almost certainly will not merit a mention in the governor’s remarks to a joint session of the legislature. Governors in Colorado, New York and Connecticut have used their state of the state messages to call for tougher gun control, but Walker said he’s more interested in looking at what motivates shooters, and what can be done to identify them before they act.

“If it’s just focused on the weapon, that gets away from the question of who are the people committing these heinous acts, and what is it that’s happening that we’re not able to prevent them from doing that?” Walker said he has no plans to push for closing the “gun show loophole” in Wisconsin, but that his state budget will include proposals for tracking persons who are under restraining orders.

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