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Doyle won't guarantee no tax hike

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New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Gov. Jim Doyle says he'll keep trying to avoid a sales or income tax increase.

But he won't guarantee it as the expected deficit in the next state budget has grown to more than $5 billion.

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It's the highest funding gap in state history.

Doyle managed to avoid raising the state's two main taxes in 2003, when he closed a 3.2 billion dollar shortfall.

But he said Tuesday "If you finally get to a point where you would just have to destroy schools, or have such high tuition increases at the university that ordinary people wouldn't be able to afford it, then you have to look at everything."

Doyle says his top revenue goals are new taxes on hospitals and oil companies.

Republicans have long opposed both, saying they would raise gas prices and medical bills for those with private health insurance.

But the GOP won't have much of a say about it next year, when Doyle's Democrats run both houses of the Legislature.

On spending, the governor says his top priorities are to fund education, preserve state health programs and protect economic programs which help pay for renewable energy and bio-technology.

Meanwhile, state officials now expect tax revenues to drop 2.5 percent by next June instead of 1.5 percent. That's due to lower consumer spending and more layoffs.

Republicans say it's the wrong time to raise taxes.

Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald says lawmakers should not put the state budget over families' budgets.

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