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Gov. Walker drops state worker smoking surcharge

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker has changed his mind about making state employees who smoke pay $50 a month more for their health insurance.

It was not exactly a change of heart. The Republican Walker said new federal rules would have made the mandate too cumbersome.

Walker proposed the insurance surcharge in the state budget he introduced in February, saying health care is more expensive for smokers. Lawmakers approved it, but Walker vetoed it because the new federal rules came along after he first proposed the surcharge.

Among other things, he said smokers could have side-stepped the fee by joining a cessation program.

Monday, Walker visited Green Bay, La Crosse, and Chippewa Falls to promote those parts of the budget he says is “Working for Wisconsin” – like the new $650 million income tax cut.

Walker continues his tour Tuesday in Hayward and Rhinelander.