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Two state officials refuse to raise taxes to cover shortfall

Two top state officials say they will not raise taxes to cover the state's latest revenue shortfall.

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan told mayors and local leaders in Madison Wednesday that people are "struggling enough now."

And Administration Secretary Michael Morgan re-affirmed Gov. Jim Doyle's promise from last week not to raise state taxes to replace $1.6 billion in lower tax revenues caused by the recession.

That's on the top of the $5 billion shortfall the state had earlier, part of which would be covered by $1.7 billion in higher taxes and fees.

The mayors came to Madison to see how much their state aid would be cut in the next budget.

The governor proposed a 1 percent cut in February.

Morgan said the new cut would be 5 percent and maybe 6. There's been talk of new state-imposed levy limits, to make sure communities don't jack up local property taxes to cover all the lost revenues.

But there's been nothing official about that. The local leaders wanted the state to let them re-open employee union contracts that run through mid-2011 - and to consider a local government's ability to pay during arbitration for contract disputes.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said the goal is to find acceptable cuts in state spending over the next few days.

Sheridan says he wants the Joint Finance Committee to agree to a final budget in the next 10 days, so it can take effect July 1 as scheduled.