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Multiple proposals for spending state surplus

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The political madness is on in Madison, where lawmakers and special interests are spewing out ideas for spending a new billion-dollar state budget surplus. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said yesterday that the state's tax collections will be around $900-million higher than projected through mid-2015.

Republican Governor Scott Walker wants to give it back to the taxpayers in property-and-income tax relief. His office has not decided on a final plan, and Walker won't announce it until his State-of-the-State address Wednesday night.

With a majority in both houses, Republicans will call the shots -- and they're getting lots of advice. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wants to reduce the local tax levy for technical colleges, saying it would assure solid tax relief for all home-and-business owners.

Republican Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald says some of his members want the state to keep at least some of the money for ongoing spending commitments. Fitzgerald is not sure what type of tax relief his house would support. Minority Democrats and liberal groups want more public school aid, higher education, worker training, and Medicaid. Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca said any tax relief should be geared to the middle class. David Riemer, a budget director under former Governor Jim Doyle, said the state's Medicaid shortfall needs to be addressed. The state has a $93-million deficit in tax-funded health care for the poor, plus a $19-million shortfall in the W-2 welfare-to-work program.