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UPDATE: Joint Finance Committee approves Walker tax cut plan

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - All Republicans voted yes, and all Democrats voted no when a state committee voted to return a half-billion dollars to Wisconsin taxpayers.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 Wednesday in favor of giving back the average homeowner $177 in property and income tax relief. That's part of a nearly $1 billion surplus in the current state budget.

Republican Governor Scott Walker proposed the tax cut last month -- and he said he was most concerned about keeping it intact.

The bill also puts $100 million in the state's general fund instead of a rainy day fund -- and it orders $38 million in cuts to offset a possible structural deficit in the next budget. Walker said those changes were okay with him -- and legislative leaders in both houses say they've got the votes to pass it.

Democrats complained that the rich would get an unfair amount of the total tax break. Senate Democrat Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie noted that about 30,000 tax filers would get around $800 in 2015.

Assembly Democrat Cory Mason of Racine said he wanted more tax cuts geared to the middle class.

Republicans insist that the lowest tax bracket gets a broader income tax cut. By law, the property tax cuts are across the board.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where action is possible on March 4th.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)