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3rd Quarter 2014
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May 2, 2014 to
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as of February 21, there were 132 bills signed into law since the beginning of the 2013-14 Session.
Property Tax Bill Estimates Under January 2014 Special Session Proposal Read Here
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Distributional Information on Proposed Individual Income Tax Rate Reduction Read Here
Wisconsin Alternative Minimum Tax and January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
Who We Are
and What We Do
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. (WPT)
is the voice of Wisconsin’s property taxpayers in the State Capitol, working to reduce the statewide property tax burden and reform Wisconsin’s antiquated and regressive property tax system.
Founded in 1985, WPT represents the interests of thousands of commercial, agricultural and residential property taxpayers throughout the state who volunteer their financial support and personal commitment to the organization and its objectives.
WPT is the only statewide taxpayers’ organization registered with the Ethics Division of the State’s Government Accountability Board to lobby exclusively for property tax relief and reform.
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WPT’s experienced government relations specialists, field representatives and technical support staff conduct a variety of activities including legislative analysis, policy and opinion research, media relations, public information and legislative liaison service, to increase public and legislative support for the organization’s public policy objectives.
WPT regularly communicates with members through personal contact, newsletters, member surveys, policy briefs and legislative action alerts.
WPT assists members in dealing with local property tax issues and answers members’ questions related to assessments, property tax exemptions, state laws and administrative rules, and provides information useful in appealing and reducing their property tax liability.
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Independence day celebration at Governor Walker's residence on Lake Mendota.
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7/24/14 Legislative Council Study Committee on WTCS Funding and Governance
On July 24, 2014, the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical College System Funding and Governance held a public meeting with invited speakers.
Campaign 2014 Candidate Interviews
7/9/14 Legislative Council Steering Committee on Personal Property Tax
The Steering Committee on Symposia Series on Personal Property Tax met on July 9, 2014 at the state Capitol. Watch
Fall 2014 General Election
Partisan Primary -- Tuesday, August 12, 2014.
General Election -- Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
The most current lists are linked here. These lists reflect the ballot access decisions of the Government Accountability Board at its June 10, 2014 meeting.
6th District Candidates Mix it Up in Fond du Lac
Published: 7:50 AM July 30, 2014
The top three Republican candidates in Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District squared off at the Goodrich Little Theater in Fond du Lac on Tuesday night to kick off a week of debates. State Sen. Glenn Grothman of Campbellsport, State Sen. Joe Leibham of Sheboygan, and State Rep. Duey Stroebel of Cedarburg debated their views on a number of issues from the federal budget to immigration.
Panelists included 620WTMJ radio talk show host and editor-in-chief of RightWisconsin.com, Charlie Sykes, former state Rep. Michelle Litjens, and Rick Sense, district director of neighboring 8th Congressional District Congressman Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood.
• When asked if they could add one amendment to the U.S. Constitution, each had a significantly different answer. Leibham wanted to see one where the separation of powers was more definitely laid out and said President Obama was overstepping his constitutional authority. Grothman wanted to propose a “well-crafted” balanced budget amendment. Stroebel also wanted a balanced budget amendment, but then asked what happened to a resolution the Assembly passed about a federal balanced budget but was never taken up by the state Senate.
• Following up on that topic, the trio was asked about past state budgets; particularly how they controlled spending. Stroebel went on attack charging that both Grothman and Leibham voted for budgets passed by Jim Doyle. Both shot back at Stroebel saying they fought against as much spending as they could in a tough political environment where Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.
• Asked if they would vote to reauthorize the federal Export-Import Bank, all three said they would opposed its reauthorization. Grothman believed the Ex-Im Bank is a classic example of government creating a tertiary industry which only helps lobbyists and the well connected. Stroebel said the Ex-Im Bank only subsidizes a handful of companies, like Boeing, and puts American companies at a competitive disadvantage. Leibham said the money the bank gets from the federal government could be put to other uses and that the bank picks winners and loser which is counter-intuitive to America’s belief in free enterprise.
• When asked about whether they would back impeachment of President Obama, Leibham said only if it is found through the process of hearings and investigation. Something he believes this White House is teetering very close to at this moment, but at the end the true responsibility on new leadership rests on the voters with a new Congress and a new President.
Grothman said that many of Obama’s actions, from the auto bailouts to immigration have warranted it. But, said that trying to politically impeach a president without the public’s backing is not going to work.
Stroebel remarked how Grothman’s answer had changed since the last time they were asked this question. He concluded that only if an independent counsel has found any wrongdoing would he back impeachment and that all the president is doing now is goading his supporters because of concern Democrats are about to lose big this November.
All three will be on the ballot in the August 12 Primary, two weeks from tonight. The winner will face likely-Democratic candidate Mark Harris, the county executive of Winnebago Co. in November. There is another debate at 7 PM tonight at Plymouth High School sponsored by Gannett Wisconsin Media.
NOTE: A previous version of this story noted that Sens. Grothman and Leibham disputed Rep. Stroebel's use of Walker budgets in a question about state spending. Grothman and Leibham defended themselves on the Doyle budgets, but only disputed the use of Walker budgets in previous press statements.
UPDATE: Those interested in viewing the debate in its entirety can go to WFDL 1170AM's UStream page. They were kind enough to pass along the link to us.
WPT strongly supports local control over tax and spending issues. We believe the taxpayers should decide whether or not to tax themselves more to improve local services, including Tech College spending. For now. However we are working to eliminate local authority to levy property taxes. In short, we do not have a position on this issue. Let the voters decide. ~ Mike Birkley
Capitol Report 2014
3rd Quarter | July
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Portage County August 12-14, 2014
BTC referendum seeks $4 million annually
By James Debilzen | Managing Editor Posted on July 30, 2014
Blackhawk Technical College is seeking an additional $4 million in annual support from local taxpayers to shore up funding shortages and expand educational programming, but Rock and Green county residents should not see a tax increase.
The question will be put to voters in a referendum during the Aug. 12 primary election.
Kelli Cameron, director of college advancement and community relations for BTC, said the college has cut $4.9 million in expenses during the last three years to address funding cuts implemented by state legislators by eliminating some programs, leaving vacant positions unfilled and laying off staff members.
“We’ve been faced with a number of cuts because our number of programs continues to grow, but we can’t keep up with the cuts that have been imposed upon us,” Cameron said.
BTC and all other Wisconsin technical colleges are funded by the local tax levy, state aid and student tuition and fees, with a small amount generated through grants. A tax levy is the amount of money raised through local property taxes to fund operations after all other revenues and expenses are calculated into the budget.
BTC lost $1.5 million when state funding was reduced by 30 percent in 2011 and property tax values were frozen that year at 2010 levels.
In January, the Wisconsin Legislature approved Act 145, which restructures how technical colleges receive funding. The state is appropriating $406 million in 2014-15 for the Wisconsin Technical College System instead of relying on revenue from property taxes, but it doesn’t mean the colleges are receiving more money overall.
“We’ll be getting $10 million more this year from the state, but we’ll be getting $10 million less from local property taxes,” Cameron said. “When you look at your bill come December, you’re going to be paying less to Blackhawk Tech this year on your tax levy.”
The act also gave technical colleges the opportunity to go to referendum to ask voters to exceed revenue limits for operational purposes. Previously, technical colleges could only seek referendum approval for capital expenses, such as building expansions.
The owner of a home valued at $100,000 should on average see a reduction of $51 on the BTC portion of the tax bill if the referendum is approved. If it fails, that reduction increases to $76.
“This is so bizarre to be explaining a referendum like this,” Cameron said.
WHY A REFERENDUM?
Sean Knott, co-chairman of the pro-referendum “Friends of BTC” advocacy group, said Act 145 has created budgeting challenges for technical colleges. Knott said before the funding shift, colleges had a better idea of what amount of revenue to expect from local property taxes.
Now, that amount of revenue is left in the hands of state lawmakers.
“What’s that going to look like in six months or two years after that?” Knott said. “It’s created a huge uncertainty where (technical colleges are) going to find funding moving forward as they continue to try to grow the college and feed the need of local employers.”
Knott is a financial advisor with wealth management and private equity firm R.W. Baird. The other co-chairs of the “Friends of BTC” campaign are Kendra Story, retired chief financial officer of ABC Supply company, and Daniel Cullen, a superintendent at general contractor J.P. Cullen and Sons.
In addition to stabilizing the college’s economic outlook, Cameron said the $4 million would allow the college to offer more evening, weekend and part-time classes, new career programs for new industries in Rock and Green counties and improve campus safety.
Cameron said more cuts will come if the ballot initiative is not approved.
“We’re down to the point where we’ve cut all the fat off and we’re cutting off our own arms,” Cameron said.
WHERE WOULD THE MONEY GO?
Existing programs that would be expanded include CNC technician training, welding, computer systems technology, radiography, fire training, criminal justice and agribusiness. Meanwhile, BTC would also explore adding programs for natural gas technicians, paramedics, health information technology and more.
With new industries like SHINE Medical Technologies – which produces medical isotopes – moving to Rock County, Knott said there is a shortage of qualified workers. He said BTC is looking to create programs that fill the skills gap, but needs more funding to accomplish that goal.
“You’ve got an opportunity to recruit new businesses here,” Knott said. “If you do that, it’s shown students coming out of Blackhawk Tech are making more money, they’re filling high-skilled, needed jobs and they’re staying here. That’s a big deal to continue to keep our youth going through the system and keeping them local versus employers having to outsource.”
If approved, a total of $1.83 million of the total $4 million referendum would be used to hire more full-time faculty members, adjunct faculty and lab assistants. BTC would use another $740,000 to increase staff for student and campus support and $180,000 as startup costs for a full-time grant writer and full-time grants manager.
The college would utilize $850,000 of the funding to “increase economic stability” to prepare “for an unknown future,” offering more flexibility to meet future program opportunities, required grant matches and eliminate reliance on the college’s fund balance.
BTC would also use $300,000 annually to cover a bond to finance a water main extension from the City of Janesville to the central campus. Currently, BTC gets its water supply from a well, but there are concerns about water quality and the ability to fight a fire at the campus.
Knott said some of the funding will be used to market BTC to local high school students with the hope of bringing down the age of the student population. Currently, the average age for students at Blackhawk is 28 years old.
“If you can connect those two sooner, you’ve got kids who are able to contribute back to the local economy at a much earlier age with a lot less debt and a lot less family challenges when you’re going through a program like that,” Knott said.
“We see the value that (Blackhawk Tech has) brought to the economy and to the employers,” Knott added. “We think it’s worth the investment and it will come back many times over.”
This report focuses on Legislative consideration of funding and management of the state Technical College System, increased school borrowing for energy conservation, expansion of state agricultural enterprise areas and raw milk sales initiatives.
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Our own Ag Member Representative Donovan Dolph - July 4th, 2014