- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014
State budget shortfall projected at $2.2 billion

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said Thursday that Wisconsin faces a $2.2 billion budget shortfall by mid-2017, a problem that will have to be tackled by the Republican-controlled Legislature next year as Walker builds his resume for a potential presidential run and looks to deliver on a campaign promise to cut taxes.

The estimate from the state Department of Administration is the first to take into account spending requests made by state agencies for the next two years.

“The numbers put out today show what it would cost to fund everyone’s wish list,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement. “The reality is that’s not going to happen.”

Those requests will be pared down significantly in the budget Walker releases in early 2015. From there, the Legislature will refine Walker’s plan before passing it sometime around June. Walker has said he wants to be aggressive in passing the budget faster, and noted this week his timeframe for deciding on a White House bid will be dictated in part by the budget passage.

The current shortfall estimate shows the state faces a $132 million shortfall that must be plugged by the end of June. The estimate for the next two years will be further refined in January when the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau releases likely figures for state tax revenue in the next two years.

Walker’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the shortfall will be addressed through “continued prudent management of agency resources,” but didn’t offer specifics.

Walker won re-election two weeks ago on the promise of cutting property taxes, a pledge that will be more difficult to achieve given the looming shortfall. Just last week, the Department of Transportation proposed a budget that would increase taxes and fees $751 million over the next two years, a request that Walker said will be changed significantly.


Wisconsin unemployment rate drops to 5.4 percent

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stands at 5.4 percent in October, dropping slightly from 5.5 percent the previous month.

The state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday that the state added 4,000 private sector jobs over the last month at the same time unemployment went down.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since the recession in October 2008. It remains below the national rate of 5.9 percent.

The numbers are based on a survey of roughly 3.5 percent of the state’s employers and subject to significant revisions.

More reliable numbers are released quarterly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they lag the monthly figures.


Milwaukee family protests tree lighting in park

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Supporters and family members of a black man fatally shot by a white Milwaukee officer have protested a tree lighting ceremony in the downtown park where he was killed.

WITI-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1ui2UePhttps://bit.ly/1ui2UeP ) about 20 people held signs calling for justice for 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton on Thursday evening as city leaders gathered to light the city and county Christmas tree in Red Arrow Park. Hamilton’s family members say it was insensitive to hold the tree lighting there.

Officer Christopher Manney was fired after he fatally shot Hamilton 14 times in April. The police chief says he fired Manney for instigating the fight that led to the shooting. Manney is appealing his termination.

The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office hasn’t said whether criminal charges will be filed against Manney.


Information from: WITI-TV, https://www.fox6now.comhttps://www.fox6now.com


Kenosha man charged in daughter’s killing

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - A 34-year-old Kenosha man is charged with killing his 11-month-old daughter.

The Kenosha News (https://bit.ly/11kooRIhttps://bit.ly/11kooRI ) reports Russell Rose Jr. was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide, aggravated battery, strangulation, arson and recklessly endangering safety. He is being held on $1 million bond.

Police say Rose was arrested Tuesday. Officers found the girl when they responded to a call in which a woman was screaming that someone had killed her baby. Police say the girl was severely bruised and her face was disfigured.

Firefighters responded after officers saw the suspect setting fire to curtains in his apartment.

The 27-year-old woman and the baby, Serenity Rose, were taken to an area hospital, where the girl was pronounced dead. The woman was treated for a swollen face and cuts to her hand.


Information from: Kenosha News, https://www.kenoshanews.comhttps://www.kenoshanews.com

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