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Wis. gov promises to cut income taxes in budget

Todd Richmond, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker promised Thursday that his next executive budget will slash income taxes, but he called those cuts just a "down payment" on future ones he hopes to phase in as the Wisconsin economy grows.

Walker told reporters following a speech at a Wisconsin Bankers Association economic forecast luncheon he'll include what he called a "significant" income tax cut in the spending plan. In his remarks to the association he called the cut a "down payment," telling reporters later he'd like to return more money to consumers as the economy expands.

"It's incredibly important for us to continue our economic growth in the state, and because of our tough decisions in the last few years we're going to be in a position to do that," the governor said.

Walker also has talked enacting some form of property tax relief. He said Thursday he wants to keep what he termed a sustainable level of property taxes in place, adding he doesn't want income tax cuts to lead to property tax increases.

The governor said he wasn't concerned about the income tax cuts adding to the state's so called structural deficit, the difference between what the state has committed to spend long-term and expected revenue. The governor pledged "we'll pay as we go."

He didn't offer any further details, saying he would reveal more in his State of the State address next week.

He is scheduled to introduce the budget to the Legislature next month. From there the spending plan will go to the Legislature's finance committee.

That panel will spend weeks revising, editing and tweaking the budget. When the committee finishes its work the budget will go next to the full Assembly and Senate. Both houses will have to agree on an identical version of the plan before it can go back to Walker for his signature.

Walker's fellow Republicans control both the Assembly and Senate.