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Doyle says more state employees will be laid off

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news River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Gov. Jim Doyle says he will not raise taxes to cover a new $1.5 billion revenue shortfall in the next state budget.

But legislative finance co-chair Mark Pocan says it would be "intellectually dishonest" not to consider more tax and fee hikes. And he promised an independent review of the governor's proposed spending cuts.

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Doyle said Thursday the deficit has grown to $6.5 billion, because tax revenues are much less than expected.

As a result, he said up to 1,100 more state employees would be laid off.

Two-percent pay raises for most workers would be rescinded.

Non-emergency state employees would get furloughs of eight days off a year without pay and Doyle and Senate Democratic leader Russ Decker said they'd work those same numbers of days for free.

Also, spending would be cut 4 percent across the board.

And local governments and schools would get less state aid, but Doyle did not say how much.

Assembly GOP leader Jeff Fitzgerald says it's unfortunate Doyle is only now considering big budget cuts, after raising taxes more than $1 billion in February.

But Mark O'Connell of the Wisconsin Counties Association says government cannot just cut its way out of its crisis and tax hikes should be considered.

Bryan Kennedy of the American Federation of Teachers said union members are willing to take their hits but the private contractors the state hires should also have to take reductions.

Pocan called the deficit an economic natural disaster, and said lawmakers would do their best to protect working families.

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