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Wisconsin roundup: Democrats say Walker’s tax cut plan is election-year gimmick; more state news stories

A proposal backed by Gov. Scott Walker would provide a $100-a-child tax rebate in July and a sales tax holiday the first weekend in August. File photo

MADISON — Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are taking pot-shots at a plan announced Thursday by Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Republicans.

It would provide a $100-a-child tax rebate in July and a sales tax holiday the first weekend in August. Noting that the Aug. 14 primary election is just a few days after the tax breaks would be handed out, Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz called the move an "election year bribe." Senate Republicans haven't approved the deal yet and leadership in that chamber hasn't indicated what its chances are.

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Lawmakers move to ease financial pressures on rural schools

MADISON — The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is directing an additional $7 million dollars to low-spending school districts.

The bill would let low-spending districts raise property taxes without a vote. There is additional state aid available to districts with 745 or fewer students enrolled and a membership density of less than 10 students per square mile. The budget-writing panel passed the legislation that has the backing of Gov. Scott Walker. The Department of Public Instruction says more than 120 school districts would qualify next year and 200 would qualify over the next six years.

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Governor’s race forum to be held Saturday in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE — A forum for Democratic candidates running for governor will be held this weekend in Eau Claire.

The event will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Eau Claire Children's Theatre. Candidates expected to attend include state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, and Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik. The forum will involve questions about Wisconsin, children, the environment, the economy, health care and good government.

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Rice Lake shooter pleads no contest

LADYSMITH — A Rice Lake man faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in April for shooting another man.

The incident happened during a drug deal in Rusk County. Brennon Foster entered no contest pleas to two counts of recklessly endangering safety Tuesday. One count of attempted murder was dropped as a part of a plea deal. Investigators say Foster planned to rob John Davidson while buying meth from him. Davidson was shot in the stomach, but he survived. He tells police Foster fired more shots at the car as he and another man were trying to drive away.

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Amtrak considers addition of 3 Foxconn-friendly Chicago round trips

MILWAUKEE — Transportation officials say the addition of three daily round trips between Milwaukee and Chicago would serve the massive Foxconn presence as its plant begins operations in Mount Pleasant.

Foxconn announced plans earlier this week to buy a seven-story building in downtown Milwaukee for its Wisconsin headquarters. Details of the expansion plans were on the table Thursday for a meeting involving the Public Transportation Review Board of the Milwaukee Common Council, along with the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

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Man in ‘Bonnie and Clyde’-like case gets 26 years

MARINETTE — A 28-year-old Marinette County man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for a so-called "Bonnie and Clyde" crime spree.

Chad Setunsky's female accomplice was given a six-year sentence last September. The two were accused of stealing an ATM, leading police on a high-speed chase, shooting at officers and triggered a manhunt last April. When Setunsky said he wasn't a bad person and "just made bad choices," the judge responded that a bad choice is "Super-sizing your french fries at McDonald's." The judge observed that it's a good thing Setunsky was a bad shot.

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Student enters no contest plea in school-threat case

FOND DU LAC — The Fond du Lac County district attorney's office says an 18-year-old man has entered a no contest plea to charges he made terrorist threats.

Austin Hill was accused of dropping a note on the ground at Fond du Lac High School Jan. 11 threatening to "shoot the school up" at 12:30 p.m. the following day. Hill admitted writing the note after another student gave police his name. He will be on probation for one year and can petition the court to clear his record if he complies with the conditions. Hill told police other students urged him to write the note to get them a day off from school.

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UW-Madison announces ‘Bucky’s tuition promise’

MADISON — Starting this fall, new in-state students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be eligible for free tuition if their families have a combined income of $56,000 or less.

The initiative is called "Bucky's Tuition Promise." University officials expect about 800 students will be covered at a cost to the system of $825,000. In-state tuition and fees are now $10,533 annually at the Madison school. The expense will be covered by private gifts, rather than tax dollars. This move is to counter the perception school is too expensive which keeps some students from applying.