WPT Capitol Report, September 6, 2017

News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin


We hope your week is going well and that you had a great Labor Day weekend!

This week, the Capitol Report will bring you the latest on the state budget, including the agreed-upon transportation deal, some developing/breaking news on PPT, as well as the newest information on Gordy's layoffs, and more.

This week, we will also feature Bob Reider, owner of Carow Land Surveying Co, Inc. in Appleton, our Wisconsin Property Taxpayer of the Week.

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

Have a great week,

WPT, Inc.




This week, we head to the Fox Valley to meet our Wisconsin Property Taxpayer of the Week, Bob Reider of Appleton, owner of Carow Land Surveying Co., Inc. A member of WPT for 17 years, we wanted to share part of Bob's story with our weekly Capitol Report readers!

"I have been raised and born in the Fox Valley area. I attended and graduated from Kimberly High School, attended UW-Oshkosh for 2 years and then the University of Wisconsin graduating with a bachelor's degree in secondary education in mathematics," he said.

So, why isn't Bob a math teacher you might ask..."I had worked for a land surveying company when I was in high school and really liked working outdoors every day rather than being locked in an office setting [but] my teaching experience as part of my degree further confirmed my desire to work outdoors," he said.

His company was actually founded by Louis E. Carow in 1968, and Bob has been employed by CLS since June of 1974- more than 43 years! And since taking over the company, Bob has strived to continue to keep the company a family type setting for the employees and their families.

"At the present time, the company employs five full time and one part time employee," Bob said. "It is very rewarding to own and run a company where you try to treat your every customer as if they were a family member."

The firm has established itself as a complimentary business to many engineers and architects that don't have professional land surveyors as part of their staff. According to their website, they provide the information that architects and engineers need without being a treat to their clients, since CLS specializes only in land surveying-- which is why their realtor and developer clients return year after year as well.

Bob also told us that his business isn't restricted to only the Fox Valley. "CLS completes all types of land survey work throughout a large part of the state. We use the most modern survey equipment and stress safety as the number one goal for all."

"CLS has been a member of WPT for a number of years because we support most efforts to limit unneeded taxation which stymies business development within the state. It is good to see the items WPT is able to accomplish every year to limit or repeal more taxes or more useless paperwork to meet new state requirements. I was hopefully the personal property tax would be repealed and am still holding out hope," he told us.

Bob and his wife Diane have been married for over 40 years and have three children and 5 and a half grandchildren! They live in the Village of Fox Crossing and have always lived in the Fox Valley. In their free time, they love traveling to and vacationing in Door County, particilarly Peninsula State Park camping.

WPT would like to thank Bob and the CLS staff for the ongoing commitment to our organization year after year.

If you would like to be featured as a Wisconsin Property Taxpayer of the Week, or if you would like to nominate somebody, click on the link below, and somebody from WPT will be in touch.


Last week, I wrote about the deal on K-12 education and the package that Joint Finance agreed upon and passed months overdue and after much debate. Afterwards, I received a couple of contacts asking about transportation and if there will ever be a deal struck on that topic. Luckily, today I actually have something to report on transportation.

If you are reading this, you are probably more than well aware of the ongoing impasse regarding transportation funding and the stalemate between the two houses of the legislature and Governor Walker. Assembly Speaker Vos and his caucus were more in favor of new revenues through vehicle registration fee increases and a gas tax increase, while against new borrowing and debt. On the other hand, Governor Walker and Sen. Majority Leader Fitzgerald were absolutely against raising tax.

It appears the stalemate has ended, and on a party line vote late last night, the Joint Finance Committee passed a motion to fund roads for the next two years.

The plan borrows a little over $400 million for roads, which is about $100 million less than Governor Walker had proposed. It seems as though they were able to do that by cutting funding for major projects by $106 million. It also cuts funding for highway rehab, resurfacing and maintenance projects by $82 million.

The plan orders a study of toll roads in Wisconsin, will eliminate 200 WisDOT positions, and will limit local governments from restricting or limiting quarry operations.

Additionally, the plan calls for a registration up-charge of $100 for electric cars and $75 percent hybrids, which many argue makes up for those types of cars paying less or no fuel tax at all.

The plan would also fully eliminate the prevailing wage, effective in one year, September 2018. Only projects using federal dollars would still be subject to a prevailing wage, Davis-Bacon.

One of the biggest concerns from various lawmakers was the long-term of Wisconsin's roads, which this budget did not accomplish. Even Rep. John Nygren, Assembly Chair of the Joint Finance Committee said he was concerned with where we'll be in two years when the next budget is crafted.

In his statement earlier today, Governor Walker said, "This budget includes more transportation funding for all levels of government to provide better roads and bridges and historically low levels of borrowing. We did all of this without raising taxes."


The Joint Committee on Finance has teed up and voted for a partial repeal on the Personal Property Tax, which will provide $73 million in relief to Wisconsin's small businesses by exempting Category 3 on the Statement of Personal Property.

The DOR defines Schedule C as "all machinery and shop equipment." Wisconsin law defines "Machinery" as a structure, assemblage or parts that transmits forces, motion or energy from one part to another in a predetermined way by electrical, mechanical or chemical means, but "machinery" does not include a building.

As the specifics are made available, WPT will send out an update, including the category and types of personal property that will now be exempted from the tax.


If a lower court makes a decision regarding anything to do with Foxconn's construction or operation, the challenge would skip the state appeals court and go directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, under the Foxconn bill that was advanced through the Joint Finance Committee yesterday.

On a party line vote of 12-4, the committee likely made this decision in order to speed up the process, and also added a provision that any decision by a lower court would be stayed until it is decided directly by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

The massive $3 billion incentive package for the Taiwanese company's development in Southeastern Wisconsin is likely to see many legal challenges, most likely stemming from environmental exemptions granted to the company through its construction process. Last week, Governor Walker also said that he is open to expanding those environmental exemptions to other businesses around the state, as well.

In addition, some contention was seen over the decision to change the legislation to include language that requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to "attempt to ensure" Foxconn has sought to satisfy hiring goals. It did not specify any numbers jobs.

The state will also send $15 million to local units of government who expend tax dollars for the Foxconn project.

While the Assembly has already debated and voted on the Foxconn package, this new amended version that was passed by the Joint Finance Committee will now need to be passed again by both houses and signed by the Governor in order to take effect. Still, Governor Walker's administration has not released its own estimates on jobs and economic impact.


Undoubtedly a disappointing figure, but offering somewhat of a sigh of relief, Wisconsin will receive $66 million from the feds in order to help ease the state's transportation budget, which has been strapped for cash and currently sits at about $1 billion in the hole.

The $66 million is about twice as much as what we usually receive from Washington, D.C. but falls short of the $341 million that Governor Walker sought to help ease the transportation impasse numbers earlier this summer.

"We could not have been more pleased with this historic amount," DOT Secretary Dave Ross said.


K-12 funding · Voucher school program expansion · Forestry mill tax eliminated · Farm to School program restored ·

Looking back on summer

The Joint Finance Committee finally voted on K-12 funding, with $639 million new dollars being invested over the next two years. Are you pleased with this outcome?

Reduces pressure on the property tax.

where does this money come taxes??? the student population is on the decline in all but 2 school districts. consolidate!

This budget appears to be a pea-and-shell game. Where's the revenue going to come or to support this? (GPR funding)

Guess what? That funding increase is BELOW the inflation rate. School districts will need to cut again, just not as much as usual. Nice job, dummies.

The Joint Finance Committee this week voted to expand school voucher program eligibility, which will now extend to 220 percent of the federal poverty level. Good idea or bad idea?

Voucher program good, especially where public schools poor.

Other than some special needs students that require specialized education that a local district cannot reasonably afford,...and this co-operate with another district, or send the student to a special need school IE: Blind, Deaf, ETC...There is little need for "vouchers"

Don't know what the total package (cost-v-benefit) is worth. Perhaps all schools should be privatized and the costs would drop significantly and bring much needed property tax relief.

Actually every property owner (and if renting its passed on to you by your landlord) foots the bill for public schools, does not matter if your have children in the public school system or not. I'm tired of the arguement that this takes away from the public schools, those parents are not getting that "benefit" if their children are going elsewhere, but they are still paying for the public schools thru their property taxes. A better way to get this whole stupid arguement out of the way, is for the federal and state governments to allow those who choose to send their children to private schools are able to use their total tution expense as a deduction against their income on their taxes.

It's like the concept behind letting farmers sell raw milk: Just because you have access to the vouchers doesn't mean that the masses will use them. I think it's fine to open up eligibility to more people, because I don't know that most people would notice.

Not sure about the voucher program. I do think if the parents had to pay the full cost of their children's education they would very quickly find a way to get it done for much less than the $10,000+ per student that we ( WI taxpayers) are now spending.

Yes. What's wrong with competition. Private schools do it cheaper.


JFC eliminated the only state-levied property tax, also known as the forestry mill tax, permanently. This amounts to a $180 million property tax reduction over the biennium. Good news or bad news?

Any tax that goes away is good!

Public land? No taxes for them! sell the land and get it back on the tax roles in order to give us all some relief.

Unsure. Sounds nice but the forestry tax supported beneficial programs.

Need to continue to protect our Forestry! Also need to make sure the fluff is eliminated. Going to have to wait and see, and maybe make an adjustment on this one.

What's gonna happen? $180m in revenue just disappeared. Where will it come from, the revenue fairy? Dummies.

Joint Finance Committee restored funding to Wisconsin's Farm to School program, contradicting Governor Walker's proposal, which cut the program entirely. If you're Governor Walker, when the budget bill gets to your desk, do you...

Helps local farmers.

Who pays...the property taxpayers? Dump it.

Never heard of this program, so I feel it should just be eliminated. Seems like only those with "connections" were given the opportunity to make use of this program and because of this, I think ti would be best if it was discontinued. The suppliers can make their own contact with the local schools and such.

It makes sense. But there are some Wisconsin sources that tout selling Wisconsin product but they aren't. I think this works well when the product is 100% grown and produced here. Otherwise it is a farce.

This is exactly what the line-item veto is fore. Removing funding the governor doesn't believe in. Will he do it?

Our grandson's beautiful garden wedding in July near Manitowoc. In August a family reunion in Waupaca, on the way home, we stopped near Eden at an ice cream place on Hwy B and had cones. This summer has been great.

Got to spend a week away from home and work.

We had a great trip to see the Brewers play at Miller Park

The summer always goes way too fast. Because of the cool, wet spring and early summer, it seems we were shorted a month on our summer this year-- still love the changing seasons we are able to enjoy in Wisconsin.

Stayed home.

Actually was a slow summer for a change and the family reunion had to be the favorite for the summer at our farm.

Wow! Just sad here for 5 minutes trying to think of something memorable from this summer. Got nothing. I guess it was all good!

We took the kids on a variety of trips across the country. They put on more miles this summer than ever. Showing the kids the enormity of New York was a great experience. A "close" second goes to seeing the Tommy Bartlett Water show, easily the greatest show on earth.

Brewers being good!


Governor Walker today asked the US Small Business Administration to review flood damage and meet with local and state officials in La Crosse and Tremealeau Counties. The resulting information could be used to request SBA federal low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and businesses that sustained damage from the July 19-23, 2017 flooding.

"Homeowners and businesses continue to clean up and rebuild following the devastating flooding in western Wisconsin," said Governor Walker. "By reaching out to the US Small Business Administration, we're working to ensure disaster aid is provided to these families and businesses quickly so they are able to get back on their feet."

County damage assessments show 37 homes and businesses and La Crosse County were destroyed or sustained major damage, and 268 reported minor damage. In Trempealeau County, 19 homes and businesses were destroyed or suffered major damage. More than 200 homes sustained minor damage.

Last month, Governor Walker requested FEMA provide a federal disaster declaration for 11 western Wisconsin counties to assist with costs associated with damage to public infrastructure. That declaration request is still under review by FEMA. Under a SBA declaration, SBA offers home and personal property loans, business physical disaster loans and economic injury disaster loans.


Popular grocery store chain Gordy's, which has stores from Barron County to La Crosse County announced last week that it would be laying off more than 1,000 workers unless it finds a buyer for their financially troubled store. In a letter sent to their employees, Gordy's said "Please be aware that business circumstances may change and that all employees may not be permanently laid off if the Gordy's entities are purchased and remain operational. It is impossible for us to determine at present which employees may be affected, if any." The notice was made public by the Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development, will be the largest in the state this year. Previously, the largest was Gander Mountain, which announced in April it would lay off about 370 workers. Last month, Gordy's was sued by its Michigan-based supplier, who says Gordy's owes them $86 million. According to the notice from DWD, the layoffs would take place in the cities of Arcadia, Augusta, Barron, Black River Falls, Chetek, Chippewa Falls, Cornell, Eau Claire, Galesville, Hayward, La Crosse, Ladysmith, Neilsville, Rice Lake, Richland Center, Shell Lake, Spencer, Stanley, Tomah, and Whitehall.