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Five Senate Dems vote no as property tax cut plan passes

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Five Democrats voted no Tuesday, when the Wisconsin Senate voted to cut local property taxes by $100 million over the next two years. 

Tim Cullen of Janesville, Bob Jauch of Poplar, Mark Miller of Monona, John Lehman of Racine, and Fred Risser of Madison were the dissenters. Ten other Democrats voted for the tax relief, though some called it fiscally irresponsible. 

Cullen said the average homeowner would only get about $1 a month. He accused Republicans of hyping the statewide total of $100 million to assure Governor Scott Walker's re-election next year.

The tax relief would come from a $760 million surplus in the last budget, although it would add to an expected deficit in the next state budget in 2015. Cullen said it would be better to put the surplus into the state's Rainy Day Fund for emergencies. 

Risser said the state should reduce its $14 billion of debt, or cut the state's $2 billion of new borrowing in the current budget. 

GOP Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald credited his party for improving the state's finances, and said Wisconsinites would welcome the tax relief. 

West Bend Republican Glenn Grothman scoffed at the idea that it's a political gimmick.  "We're Republicans, that's what we do." 

After the vote, Walker praised lawmakers of both parties for getting behind his proposal. 

Nobody objected to the tax cut at a public hearing earlier in the day, when the Joint Finance Committee unanimously endorsed it. It goes to the Assembly Thursday.