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Wisconsin budget gets $500M boost

Scott Bauer, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Assembly Republican leaders say a $500 million boost in state revenue should be tapped to pay for an increase in public school spending.

The Republicans issued a press release on Thursday saying they would support a $100 per-student spending increase. Senate Republican leaders have called for as much as a $200 per-student increase.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo Thursday showing the new, more positive budget estimates. They roughly $500 million increase above earlier estimates will give lawmakers room to pay for additional spending and tax cuts.

Gov. Scott Walker has said in recent weeks that he also wants to increase funding for K-12 schools and broaden his tax cuts as originally proposed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Wisconsin's state budget got a huge boost on Thursday.

New revenue projections released to key lawmakers and obtained by The Associated Press show the state will collect more than half a billion dollars more than first expected, which will make it easier for the Legislature to direct more money to public schools and tax cuts as leaders have said they want to do.

The latest figures come from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who was among legislative leaders briefed on the highly anticipated numbers, told the AP that projections are for more than $500 million more in tax revenues to be collected over the next two years.

Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker have said in recent days that they want to increase funding for public education and make even greater tax cuts.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said statements from Republican leaders will be released later Thursday. Walker's spokesman Tom Evenson had no immediate comment.

Walker's budget, released in February, did not include any spending increase for K-12 education. In recent weeks, Walker and Republicans have said they were committed to providing schools more money, but haven't said how much.

Republican Senate President Mike Ellis said Wednesday that he wanted to allow spending to increase by $200 per student during each of the next two years, which would cost about $408 million.

Walker and other Republicans have said they want to deepen his planned income tax cut. As it stands now that cut would cost about $343 million and average $83 for the average taxpayer.