CHICAGO -- Wisconsin legislators passed a $28.3 billion all-funds two-year budget Wednesday, but Gov. Tommy Thompson said he might veto the entire package because it raises taxes and spending $537 million more than he had proposed.
The general funds portion of the all-funds budget passed by the Legislature was $13.8 billion, compared with the $13.e billion budget that had been proposed by Gov. Thompson. The general funds budget pays for most of the state government's daily operating expenses and is primarily funded by state income and sale taxes.
John Montgomery, a deputy budget director, said Friday the governor would review the budget this week to determine whether to veto it entirely or radically revise it with his line-item veto powers.
"The governor has substantial line-item powers, so if he craft an acceptable budget that way he will do so," Mr. Montgomery said. "If not, he will veto the whole thing and the Legislature will have to come back" for a special session.
Under those veto powers, the governor can either eliminate or reduce appropriations passed by the Legislature.
Mr. Montgomery added that if the governor decides he can revise the budget with his line-item veto, it could take up to a month to make all his changes and finalize a budget. At that point, the Legislature could call itself into special session to attempt an override of the vetoes, or it could wait until its next scheduled session in October.
A vetoed budget would not cause the Wisconsin government to shut down. Under Wisconsin statutes, state government agencies are allowed to spend at the level of the previous fiscal year until a new budget is signed into law.
Gov. Thompson did not ask for any general tax increases when he proposed his budget in February for the 1992-93 biennium that began July 1. Mr. Montgomery said the budget passed by the Legislature makes several changes in the tax code that are unacceptable to the governor, including:
* Increasing the corporte income tax to 8.4% from 7.9%, to raise an additional $74 million.
* Increasing the cigarette tax to 40 cents from 30 cents, to raise $68 million.
* Eliminating a $200 individual income tax break from home owners, to raise $295 million.
* Tightening capital gains tax breaks, to raise $72 million.
* Increasing the real estate transfer fee to $5 from $4, to raise $28 million.
The tax increases passed by the Legislature would be dedicated to funding a property tax relief plan in which the first $30,000 of the market value of a principal residence would be exempt from assessment for the purposes of levying property taxes. The state would then reimburse local governments for the lost revenues, estimated to be about $587 million during the biennium, according to an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Julie Hertel, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Gov. Thompson believes the property tax relief plan passed by the Legislature is a sham, because other taxes are raised and tax breaks are eliminated to pay for it.
"We don't think this does anything to ease the pressure on taxpayers," she said.
Wisconsin legislators, who adjourned after passing the budget Wednesday night, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The Legislature had been scheduled to adjourn June 28, but took an additional six days to iron out a compromise budget agreement between the Senate and the Assembly. The Assembly had proposed raising taxes by $717 million, $180 million more than allotted in the budget that was finally passed.
Officials from Standard & Poor's Corp. and Moody's Investors Service also could not be reached for comment, because the offices of both rating agencies were closed Friday.
Wisconsin's general obligation debt is rated Aa by Moody's Investors Service and AA by Standard & Poor's Corp.