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Gov. Walker promotes new budget in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 07/02/2013
Story By Adam Fox

Gov. Walker promotes new budget  in Northwoods
RHINELANDER - You can still feel the divide between Democrats and Republicans from the budget Governor Walker signed Sunday.

Now that it's official, Walker is selling the positives of his budget.

Tuesday, Walker spoke in Rhinelander.

He talked about about programs meant to bring tourists to the Northwoods, but that wasn't his main point.

Instead, he focused on the coming $650 million income tax cut for Wisconsin citizens and small businesses.

"The vast majority of employers in the state, which are small business, will see an income tax cut because they pay income taxes, not corporate taxes," Walker said. "This is a great budget for small businesses and individuals all across the state of Wisconsin."

But one group thinks the cut could be too much.

The Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance said Tuesday that the budget under-funds the state's savings account, also known as a rainy day fund.

Walker says his administration has done the opposite.

"We have added for the first time in state history, three consecutive times, since I have been governor, to the rainy day fund," Walker said. "It's one of the highest amounts we've had in the past."

Walker put $108 million in the fund in October.

But a June Reuters article said states like Wisconsin, with low rainy day funds, could be vulnerable in another economic downturn.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin farmers produced smaller corn and soybean crops last year than in 2016, while potato production was up slightly.

The Agriculture Department reports that the state's soybean production was down 6 percent and grain corn production was down 11 percent. Alfalfa hay production was down 19 percent.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Cars in ditches and fender benders littered Northwoods roads this weekend.

Icy conditions meant many drivers lost traction.

Tow truck operators have been working around the clock to help people who crashed or spun off the road.
 
"You eat dinner when you can, you don't know how long you're going to be out. I mean us guys can do 12, 18 hour days. It gets a little tough sometimes," said tow truck operator Sean Hobena. 

Hobena got six calls Monday, which he said is mild compared to previous days. He covers areas in Oneida, Vilas, and Price counties. 

He advises drivers to be careful when driving.

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MERRILL - One Merrill art teacher spends her weekends painting a giant Bucky the Badger statue inside her classroom.

She was chosen to participate in a free public art event featuring 100 life-size statues of Bucky.

"Right now he's six foot six inches and he weighs about 150 pounds," said Merrill Middle School art teacher Christy Rasmussen.

Rasmussen will help make this Spring's "Bucky on Parade" free public outdoor art event a success.
"It's a tourism draw for people," said Rasmussen.

The parade will consist of 100 giant Buckys hitting the streets of Madison and Dane County this spring all decorated by Wisconsin artists.

"Being an art teacher I thought how fun it would be for my kids to be involved," said Rasmussen.

"I was like what is that," said one of Rasmussen's students, Hailey Nowack.

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ANTIGO - Usually people just throw out Christmas trees after the holiday season. But in Antigo, people burn some of them.

Dozens gathered at Antigo High School on Monday for the Christmas tree burn. It's hosted by the Antigo Optimist Club each year. Organizers say it's a great family event with years of history. 

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VILAS COUNTY - The Vilas County Safe Ride program completed its first month at the beginning of January. The program started on December 4. 

Vilas County Safe Ride coordinator Dan Ullsperger said the first month went well. 

"Having 15 in the first month I think is very, very successful. We're looking forward to having more in January and February. I think it will just keep growing and growing," said Ullsperger. 

He hopes to have 30 to 40 rides per month in the future. 
 
The Safe Ride program is meant to eliminate drunk drivers from the roads. A bar has to join the Vilas County tavern league. Then it can buy vouchers for the rides to hand out to customers who need a way to get home. 

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LAKE TOMAHAWK - Not everyone enjoys the sub-zero temperatures we've seen across the Northwoods recently.

But for ice fishermen, that means better ice conditions.

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WAUSAU - Severe flu cases don't seem as common here in Northern Wisconsin as other places across the country.

But that could easily change and hospitals here are prepared if it does. 

Infection Control Manager Jeanine Bresnahan says the number of hospitalized flu patients has increased at Aspirus Wausau Hospital in the last two weeks. 

They're not seeing the high number of patients some other hospitals across the nation are, but they do have a plan in place just in case. 

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