News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
We hope you had a great Monday, and that you were able to catch a glimpse of the eclipse this morning and afternoon.
This week, the Capitol Report will bring you the latest on the state budget, some news regarding property values in Wisconsin, jobs numbers, the latest on a mining proposal in the state legislature, and some relief coming for business and property owners who were impacted by last month's flooding.
As always, we hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
WISCONSIN PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
Beginning next week, WPT will highlight one business, farm, or homeowner per week in our Capitol Report! And it could be your business, farm, or property featured!
With a membership of 18,000, we think it's important to highlight the incredible farmers, businesses, and homeowners that we have the honor of representing each day.
It will also be a great way to get like-minded members acquainted with one another through the Capitol Report, which is read by thousands of people each week.
If you would like WPT to feature your business, farm, or property in an upcoming Capitol Report, just click the link below and fill out the contact form. Somebody from WPT will be in touch! This is
absolutely free, and just a fun and great way to share a bit about yourself, and for us to highlight members who make our organization great! Who knows; you might even generate some new business!
"What's up with the budget, John? PPT?"
That's all one e-mail from a member said last Wednesday, so I decided that it would be the topic of this week's "Last Week" column, as it has been most weeks.
Last week, I was able to make some contact with various lawmakers regarding a few things, among which was the forestry mill tax. The forestry mill tax is the portion of your annual property tax bill that is levied by the State of Wisconsin. It is also the only property tax levied by the state. The revenues, which come out to about $26 dollars on the average home, go toward funding the state's forestry program.
I was also able to make some contacts regarding the personal property tax repeal, and the status of that massive repeal.
It turns out that the Joint Finance Committee will be back into the swing of the budget on Thursday, and will be voting on the repeal of the state forestry mill tax (property tax) on all Wisconsinites. This would be a massive $86 million property tax reduction when the Governor signs it into law (hopefully soon.)
Some of the things NOT being taken up by the committee yet are...you guessed it, transportation, and the personal property tax repeal. The real is coming along, and it looks good for our side, with small businesses waiting around the state to see this burdensome and laughable tax repealed. According to one of the co-chairs of the committee, there is now general agreement among leadership about the personal property tax. Senator Alberta Darling said of the PPT lat week, "I think the priority is small business" when asked which classes of property are being targeted for PPT repeal.
There's no reason to celebrate just yet, as nothing is final until the votes are cast, and the governor's signature is affixed, but the forestry mill tax looks nearly dead-certain to be repealed on Thursday.
Also last week, the Foxconn deal passed the State Assembly, but you will read more about that later on in this week's Capitol Report. The measure will head to committee tomorrow, and then likely to the state senate sometime very soon. Stayed tuned for any large changes to the legislation that might send the bill all the way back to the Assembly for another round of voting.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, concerns, or require any assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly at email@example.com. Thank you, and have a great week.
WISCONSIN PROPERTY VALUES REACH NEW HIGH
According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, after sifting through data by the Department of Revenue, Wisconsin's property values have reached an all-time high.
The total number of property value in Wisconsin is $526 billion, which also represents a 4.1 percent increase over 2016. It's the single largest jump in value since 2007. Previous to this number, the highest was $514 billion in 2008, just prior to the beginning of the Great Recession. The good news is, ever since then, values have been increasing steadily.
The lowest property values have ever been in Wisconsin was in 2013, when the number dipped to $468 billion. All the news is not good, however. According to WTA, in 29 Wisconsin counties, the numbers still have not rebounded from the Great Recession.
FOXCONN INCENTIVE PACKAGE PASSES ASSEMBLY
On Thursday last week, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a $2.8 billion incentive deal for the giant Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, which will be building its first US plant right here in the State of Wisconsin. The bill passed on a bipartisan basis, 59-30.
The debate raged on through the day, with Republicans calling the bill a smart investment in Wisconsin's future, painting a broad picture of revolutionary technology, not currently being made anywhere else in America, being made right here in the Badger State. In the end, only two Republicans opposed the deal, Reps. Todd Novak of Dodgeville and Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake.
Democrats argued that more protections for taxpayers and the environment needed to be included in the package, though their leader Rep. Peter Barca of Kenosha, voted in favor of the package. So did other democrat lawmakers Reps. Todd Ohnstad and Cory Mason, both of whom represent the region in which Foxconn plans to build. All other democrats voted against the bill.
Now that the bill has passed one chamber of the legislature, an identical bill must be passed in the State Senate in order to move to Governor Walker's desk for his signature. It's expected the Senate will take up the measure in the coming weeks, with a public hearing being held by the Joint Finance Committee in Sturtevant, WI tomorrow.
BILL INTRODUCED TO RELAX MINING RESTRICTIONS
A bill by Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would repeal a state law which currently requires mining companies to show that they have operated in the past without polluting, before receiving their permits to extract certain metals in Wisconsin.
The issue has been referred to as a "moratorium" on mining for sulfide-producing metals such as gold and copper, and Tiffany believes it's about time that Wisconsin follows suit, as Michigan and Minnesota have "placed their shovels in the dirt of America's future." Senator Tiffany is no stranger to mining issues, as he authored and was instrumental in the controversial legislation surrounding the proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin in 2013.
According to one news source, various organizations have come out opposed to the plan, including the Sierra Club and Wisconsin Resources Protection Council. Those groups claim that as many as 50 state, regional, and national groups also stand against repealing the law, which was signed by Governor Tommy Thompson in 1998, and passed on a bipartisan basis in the legislature.
Tiffany, on the other hand, says that the Flambeau copper mine near Ladysmith, WI has proven that certain mines can operate without causing harmful impacts, therefore the law is an unnecessary regulation.
LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL LOSES PROPERTY TAX SUIT
According to Wisconsin Lutheran High School, providing housing for international students plays an intrinsic role in their mission of providing religious education. Therefore, according to the high school, they should be exempt from paying property taxes on their housing property. The school itself already does not pay property taxes. But the City of Milwaukee argued that the school was effectively asking the court to make a ruling on religious schools' housing, therefore asking for a new exemption.
On Thursday, however, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge took the side of the city, "concluding that the minor educational activities within the dorms are 'merely incidental' to their primary function as places to sleep and eat," but also applauded the school for its programs and mission.
The judge also implied that the school take its fight to the state legislature, saying that housing for a religious college can be tax exempt currently. Incidentally, the same housing in question was already exempted from property tax when it was part of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The property tax bill would be about $33,000 per year.
According to the school, international students pay $32,700 per year for tuition, room, and board, which helps offset money lost by student who attend on school vouchers.
WPT WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Baiting and feeding deer ban lifted · REINS Act signed into law Smartphone while driving regulations proposed · Showing more info on property tax bill · Reviving Midwest Airlines
Do you think baiting and feeding deer should be banned in Wisconsin?
Don't hunt so I don't know all the facts. Hunt? Not since the 1980 > Bait(ed) NEVER. We have a dairy farm, there are too many deer that we feed year round. I hunt, but don't bait. I used to bait, but when it got banned I liked the rule. Yes, enjoy the view and wait. Used to hunt, no longer. Do do feed the deer in the winter, not always by choice, they like to eat our landscape even though we plant "deer resistant" plants, what a hoke, if they are hungry they will eat anything. We do feed them when it starts getting tough for them in the winter as there are times when they are visibly stressed. As seemed safe with regard to CWD. Yes, no, no research to show that feeding deer spreads CWD. Not a hunter. I do hunt as much as possible. Never baited deer in a pile. If they are going to allow to bait in one county there should allow in ALL the counties. It should be allowed if the deer can set traps of beer and cheetohs and shoot thirsty hunters who get the munchies. Yes, I hunt but we feed deer so we can watch them and enjoy their beauty near our home.
The REINS Act was signed into law by the Governor. Did (or do) state administrative rules or regulation ever impact your life or business?
First of all, stop using acronyms. Everyone has to deal with these rules- environmental rules, building codes, business licenses, international trade, minimum wage, garnishments insurance, income reporting, tax rules, business reporting rules and that wonderful OSHA. The list goes on and on. Sort of a stupid question.
We have to deal with federal DOT regulations. So many from different state agencies- not enough space to write. Bank regulations. I'm suspicious of anything being done 7 years after Walker has taken office. Was the regulatory process awful the past 7 years? Too many to list. Yes, I like this legislation.
New smartphone regulations have been proposed, which would ban all data usage on Wisconsin roads (except GPS). Good idea or bad idea?
When we use the word "ALL" we're headed for trouble. This has happened to me in Wisconsin - it's about 10 pm, dark and snowing like crazy. If I stop I'll be in trouble. The little red car ahead of me spins out of control and goes into the ditch. I call 911. Emergency situations need to be addressed. However, I've seen too many idiots on their phone who have run stop signs and other near misses. Hands free phones are better maybe not the only answer. Technology changes all the time so maybe something better will come along. Your question does not address non-drivers in the car using the phone. Where there's a slow driver or a car going all over on the road, 9 times out of 10, they're on the phone. I see way too many people using their phones while driving. Unfortunately way too many people are addicted to their phones and can't put them down for one minute! I have mine on do not disturb always, and will only look at a few times a day, personally hate cell phones! Driving requires all of your concentration. How would you ban data usage on our roads? Either your phone works or it does not. If I pull off the road and park that's technically still the road right-of-way. How would the cell signal be banned for the road but allowable at the roadside for passengers. I only use my cell phone in hands free mode when driving. Something needs to be done about texting and driving. Only talk- still have flip phone. Support the bill. Way too many distracted drivers, and they are on the same level as drunk drivers for crashes. I have a cell phone, but only use it in the passenger side, never when I am a driver. Yes, I use a phone but not data. I do not use phone while driving.
A bill was proposed that would show each property taxpayer how many of their tax dollars go toward voucher schools. Good idea or bad idea?
Don't know, don't care. Why single out that one item unless you are harassing the idea! The voucher program is less cost per child than public schools. It should list the cost savings! Another attempt by the democrats to point fingers at their slanted view that republicans hate public schools, and another way to employ more bureaucrats with mindless jobs. Keep the government more accountable. What is the problem with Voucher schools. Those schools teach our children reading, writing and arithmetic just like the public schools. But they allow religion to be used and now a days what is wrong with that. I think more people should start going to a church maybe there would be less hatred. I think the more informed we are, the less there is anger over how our money is spent. I think it's important for all to see how their tax dollars are used. It costs a lot less for most voucher schools to educate a child as compared to the public schools. However, these Democrats want to appeal to their friends in the teachers union and various other educrats. It should go farther and show a break-down of how many of your dollars go to which religious schools, so we know where our public dollars go.
Yes, I have flown with them. I rarely fly. Perhaps a couple times in 10 yeas. Having more options out of E.C. would be nice. No preference to any airline. No more. It would be great to have Midwest Express back. We used to fly Midwest quite often. They had the wide seats and the delicious cookies. Have not flown since before 9/11/01 and will avoid doing so if I can help it as I'm NOT going to go thru the circus it has become. Are there any sufficient fliers who would pay the additional fare? Don't fly. I don't; have an opinion on this because I've never flown Midwest Express. I generally fly American airlines as they are dependable (no last minute flight cancellations and reasonable). Southwest Airlines seems to have the best deals. Hope it works. I would love to see Midwest Express come back- I always flew it if I could. Liked the 2 across seating and of course the chocolate chip cookies. Loved Midwest. Not sure because I have only flown one time in my life and that was 18 years ago. NO. I don't fly but they always had a very good reputation. I hope they are able to restart. It will be good for those who do fly. Why should it take so long to get Federal approval? Drain the swamp! More competition is a good idea. We need to go back to the good old days when airlines provided more than just basic transportation from A to B. When bag fees, seat selection fees, and early boarding fees didn't exist. Don't fly. Don't know about the plan. Yes, I flew ME. Two across wider seats. I like the plan. For a larger city, Mitchell is small with very limited accommodations. We need Midwest back. Many of their flights were non-stop and to destinations we cannot get to non-stop now. With Foxconn coming, we will so need better air travel options. Always received great service when flying Midwest and would fly with them again. The spacious comfortable seats were great.
WISCONSIN JOB GROWTH FLAT IN JULY
The latest of numbers released by the Department of Workforce Development showed a flat July, as only 100 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs were added since the month prior. Due to seasonal adjustment, the unemployment rate ticked upward by 0.1 percent, but remained at near-historically low levels.
Also according to the numbers, the state's labor force participation rate dropped slightly to 68.8 percent, but remains well above the national average of 62.9 percent. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of people in the workforce who are either working or looking for work.
Goods-producing industries were responsible for the most job creation in July, with 1,100 jobs being added in manufacturing-- 800 in durable goods in 300 in non-durable. Leisure and hospitality lost 1,800 jobs, and 4,400 jobs were lost in the trade sector.
DWD also released wage information from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which showed a 1.2 percent increase in private sector employment from March 2016 to March 2017. These numbers are important because many industries view this as a more accurate indicator of employment because it relies on unemployment insurance records for 96% of the state's businesses. According to their report, private sector wages saw a 7.7 percent uptick year over year.
CONNECTING WISCONSIN BUSINESSES TO FOXCONN
Governor Walker announced today that Wisconsin companies looking for potential business opportunities with Foxconn can use Supply Chain Marketplace, a quick and easy online tool, to connect with the electronics manufacturer, which is making a historic investment in Wisconsin, according to a statement from the Office of the Governor.
"Not only is Foxconn bringing 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin, the company also plans to purchase more than $5 billion from Wisconsin companies during the construction phase of the project as well as an additional $1.4 billion from the state annually once the campus is operational," Governor Walker said. "Foxconn's transformational investment will provide great opportunities for companies in every region of the state, and the only Supply Chain Marketplace will make it easier for those businesses to connect with Foxconn."
The Supply Chain Marketplace allows companies to find new customers and reach new markets by highlighting their capabilities and making connections. The online tool is free of charge, and all Wisconsin businesses are eligible to create a profile at www.WISupplyChainMarketplace.com.
Once a company creates a profile, it will be added to the appropriate directories by clicking a box. In addition to directories for specific industries, there is a new supply-chain directory tailed specifically to Foxconn.
DISASTER ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE IN SOUTHEAST WI
According to the Governor's office today, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Gov. Walker's request for federal low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses affected by flooding in SE Wisconsin last month. The SBA will open disaster loan outreach centers to help flood victims and businesses obtain information and apply for assistance.
"We know many victims are struggling to recover from devastating floods last month," Governor Walker said. "We're thrilled to see the SBA heard our request and is able to provide families and businesses in Wisconsin with low-interest loans to help them get back on their feet."
The SBA declared Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth Counties, along with the connected counties of Jefferson, Milwaukee, Rock, and Waukesha as eligible for disaster assistance.
Homeowners are eligible for assistance in the form of a low-interest loan of up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed homes. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for up to $40,000 to replace or repair damaged or destroyed personal property. The loan limit is $2 million for businesses.