February 7, 2016

Democrats say budget fails to help the middle class

Governor Walker on Wednesday night outlined a two year budget plan that includes an income tax cut, provides more funding for job training programs, and restores some of the cuts made to public education during the last biennium. However, Democrats say the proposal falls short of taking the steps that are needed to improve conditions for the middle class in Wisconsin.

State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), the ranking Democrat on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, says the budget fails the middle class on jobs, taxes, health care, and education.

Mason questioned how the proposed $343 million income tax cut would actually help families who are struggling the most, when it targets such a broad range of income levels. The Racine Democrat says having the cut run all the way up to incomes of $214,000 likely means “resources will heavily favor those making six figures.” Mason argued that incomes of that level are far from being considered middle class when the median family income in the state is only about $50,000.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said the plan “ignores Wisconsin’s middle class families and students in favor of special interest giveaways and more tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said a “true middle-class budget would strengthen our public schools, provide a common-sense plan for health care, ensure more economic security for Wisconsin families and balance any middle-class tax cuts with investments that are important to the middle class. This budget incorporates extreme ideas like statewide vouchers and a charter school board that even Republicans have said are wrong for our state.”

The governor’s budget plan now heads to the finance committee, where it will be subject to a lengthy process of public hearings and possible revisions, before it goes before the full Legislature.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:19)

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