Taxpayers divided over what to do with state's budget surplus

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- During the State of the State Address on Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker discussed Wisconsin's $900 million budget surplus proposing a blueprint for how he believes the money should be spent -- including plans to cut property and income taxes and a desire for the state to change the way it withholds income tax money.

He has called for a special session -- asking lawmakers to send $800 million back to taxpayers.

Critics of the plan are concerned it may do short-term good while leaving the state vulnerable in the future. Taxpayers are divided on what they'd like to see lawmakers do with the estimated $911 million surplus.

"I think maybe help people that have lost their jobs, to hire people to help them find a new job and keep the jobs in Wisconsin," said Pat Heider.

"Tax relief would be fine. I guess I'm not happy with the idea we have a surplus this year and if we use it all up, is that going to create a problem next year? We obviously shouldn't spend it all," said Tom Schultz.

Gov. Walker says now is the time to return that money to the taxpayers and has called a special session asking the legislature to support a plan that includes a $406 million property tax cut and nearly $100 million in income tax cuts.

"The best way to prepare for the future is by continuing to grow our economy, not by keeping more money here in Madison," said Gov. Walker.

Democrats say the "blueprint for prosperity" would help the wealthy far more than the working class.

One policy expert says Wisconsin should be careful in declaring a nearly $1 billion surplus, adding the surplus doesn't necessarily mean the economy has improved all that much.

"The danger of this, of course, is these are projections. This isn't money we have in hand. To some degree we do, but much of it is still going to come in in the next year and a half," said Todd Berry. "I think it's very important to say that this extra money comes about only because we underestimated revenue. It's coming in a little faster and that's pretty common."

Under the Governor's proposal, a family making $60,000 a year, in a home valued at $150,000, would save about $160 per year.

Critics say they would rather see the state either hold on to more of the surplus or give it to programs that saw massive cuts in 2011, such as public education.

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