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Legislative leaders cautious about Gov. Walker's biz tax break plan


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker’s idea to give millions of dollars in grants and state tax breaks to new and expanding businesses got a cautious reception from legislative leaders.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the Republican majority would probably support more tax credits for programs that achieve their job creation goals. But in general, Vos said he’s more interested in simplifying state taxes rather than expanding programs.

Walker said Thursday he would put a number of new business tax breaks in his proposed state budget. They include an extra $75 million to replenish a fund for business investment credits that would run dry in a couple months. There’s also an extra $11 million to help market Wisconsin to new businesses – plus matching funds for mentoring and business networking programs, and a half-million to help veterans start their own businesses.

Walker also wants to provide venture capital to high-tech start-up firms – but he has not decided whether to make it part of the budget, or create separate legislation that would get more scrutiny from lawmakers and taxpayers.

Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said he supports venture capital, but he said it should be a separate bill. And he said the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation should not control the venture capital fund, given its past failures to keep track of business loans that became overdue.

Barca is a member of the WEDC Board, and he said that group is, “on probation.”