Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a new $70 billion two-year budget that cuts income taxes by $650 million. The budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature also expands private school vouchers and declines to expand the Medicaid program.
Before signing the budget Walker used his veto power to strike several provisions. He eliminated a move to make bail bondsmen - or bounty hunters - legal in Wisconsin. He also rejected a move to expel an investigative journalism center from the University of Wisconsin, saying the decision should be left up to the UW system and its regents.
But the basics of the budget were clear in advance of Sunday's signing ceremony. And they move Wisconsin in a decidedly different direction from its DFL-led western neighbor, which used the recent legislative session to raise taxes, put more money into public schools, and expand Medicare, among other things.
Star Tribune reporter Jim Ragsdale visited Madison in June and profiled the tale of two states ("There really couldn't be a starker contrast," said one Badger State lawmaker).
Walker says Wisconsin's tax policy will be a magnet for businesses looking to expand. Gov. Mark Dayton and other Minnesota Democrats have pointed to economic data showing the Gopher State outperforming its neighbor decisively in recent years.
Walker is one of eight Republicans elected governor in 2010 in states where voters had sided with President Obama two years earlier. In a USA Today piece looking ahead to the re-election campaigns in those states, Walker said he plans to strike a more conciliatory tone. He says it's not that he's changed , but rather that Wisconsin doesn't need tens of thousands of protesters. at the Capitol.