We hope your week is off to a productive start.
Below, we will introduce you to this week's Member of the Week, outline some of the top headlines from the past week, and get you up to speed on legislation.
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,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week's Property Taxpayer of the Week is Greg Peterson, owner of Peterson Auto Parts in Sauk City.
Like many of the farms and businesses that WPT interfaces with on a daily basis, Peterson Auto Parts actually began decades ago, in 1965 to be exact. The original owners, Greg and Cecile, sold their shop to their son Greg in 2006. They still work at the store to this day.
Greg tells us that his biggest source of pride comes from the commitment to serving his customers.
"We try hard to go the extra mile," he added.
We asked Greg to explain some of the hardships or challenges that his industry faces.
"Loss of business due to online internet sales," he said, like so many small retailers across the State of Wisconsin.
Greg believes WPT's work helps keep property tax low in Wisconsin, and he said that helps his business regularly.
"I am sure there are many businesses like mine that operate on a very thin margin. With unnecessary taxes and regulations, we simply could not afford to stay in business."
A native of the Sauk Prairie area, Greg enjoys hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities in his free time. And as if he doesn't have enough on his plate already, Greg owns another business.
"I also own a beef cattle farm in western Sauk County," he told us. "So, I stay quite busy."
Last week, many members reached out to share that they had received their property tax bills.
By and large, the feedback was good. We have heard now of decreases of 4%, 6%, and even 7%. We have also heard of some increases in communities where taxspenders are focused on increasing the scope of government, and spending beyond their means. That story might sound very familiar to you.
That's why we are focused on reducing the overall tax burden in addition to "real property" tax. If you take a good, hard look at the property tax bill, which I'm sure most of you do, you will see that the entire State of Wisconsin line is gone from your bill. That's because we spent the spring and summer advocating for the removal of the state's levy on your local bill. The forestry mill tax is gone, and still fully funded, and local homeowners and property owners aren't on the hook any longer for the first time in nearly a century.
We also want to remind you that we are here to assist you in any way you might need. If you have questions about your property tax bill, questions or concerns about increases or line items, or if you want to learn more about how to challenge your bill, we are here to share the information that you need. There are a lot of numbers and a whole lot of dollar amounts that need to be properly looked at, so give us a call or shoot me an e-mail at my address below if you don't want to go it alone this year.
As always, I hope you've found this article to be informative and helpful. If you have anything you want to add or discuss, just reach out to me at email@example.com directly and I'd be glad to assist, or call (608) 255-7473.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
STATE AND LOCAL TAXES TREND DOWNWARD IN 2017
According to WTA, Wisconsin's overall state and local tax burden declined again in 2017, and however excellent that news is, two major events that occurred were mainly responsible for the decline. In their new report, the 19% decline in unemployment insurance taxes, and the end of the half percent sales tax in Brown County were the primary reasons. The combined state-local tax burden for 2017 was 10.7% of personal income, which was down 0.1% from 2016, and marked the sixth consecutive year of declines since 2011 when the burden hit 11.9% of personal income. The state's tax collections were $18.8 billion. The largest tax of the state portion is the individual income tax, with increases of 3.9% to $7.7 billion to $8 billion. Corporate tax collections by the state have fallen over the past two years, mainly due to the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit. The state's collections of gas tax rose 0.7 percent to $1.04 billion, and vehicle registrations grew to $692.3 million. On the local side, $10.2 billion were collected, with property tax being the main funding source, bringing in $9.6 billion, and increase in collection of 2.7%. Finally, the second-largest local tax is the 0.5% optional sales tax, which brought in $361.5 million.
CERTIFIED WISCONSIN BEER LABEL PROPOSED
A bill being circulated in the state legislature would create a new "certified Wisconsin beer" label, touting the state's industry, and indicating to customers that they are buying a local option. In order to get the certification, which would be administered through DATCP, the beer would be required to have a certain percentage of hops grown in Wisconsin, according to the bill's author, Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa). According to the lawmaker, 20% of the hops would have to be from Wisconsin, and then that requirement would increase to 60% in 2020, and 80% after 2024. Rep. Krug is seeking cosponsors for the legislation through Friday.
144 SCHOOL DISTRICTS RECEIVE SPARSITY AID
Sparsely populated school districts in Wisconsin have received a total of $18.5 million in special aids designed to assist school districts with smaller populations. These aids can be used for general school operations, unlike other categorical aids which must be used for particular programs or services. For the 2017-2018 school year, 144 districts qualified for sparsity aid, meaning those schools had 745 fewer students in a density less than 10 pupils per square mile in the district. Five new school districts were added to the list, including Dover #1, Erin, Glenwood City, Iowa Grant, and North Cape. The aid was paid on the third Monday in September, and served 62,377 students, about 7 percent of Wisconsin's total public school membership. The aid totaled $296.52 per student.
REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS LOOK TO INCREASE HISTORIC TAX CREDIT
Some lawmakers are seeking support that would increase the recently-cut historic tax credit from $500,000 per project to $3.5 billion, after Governor Walker in September used his veto pen to slash the credit from $5 million to $500,000.
Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah), who sits on the Joint Committee on Finance, said that the tax credit benefits all communities in our state, and that he has been working with Governor Walker to compromise somewhere between $500,000 and $5 million.
According to Rohrkaste, Governor Walker's office has said they will look at the proposal and identify any "hurdles" that need to be overcome.
GOVERNOR WALKER SIGNS VETERANS BILLS
Governor Walker last week signed three bills into law, among which was the Sen. Testin/Rep. Goyke bill that creates a collaborative program to integrate veterans into agriculture and provide supporting services. The program will assist veterans by providing employment, mentorship, and educational opportunities in both the UW and tech college system, and will also connect vets with local, state, and federal resources.
Additionally, Governor Walker signed a bill that brings consistency in eligibility for disabled-veteran-owned businesses between state and federal programs. The bill, authored by Sen. Roth and Rep. Goyke was passed by both chambers on a voice vote.
Finally, another bill was signed into law that clarifies that the Department of Military Affairs should include all differential tuition costs in calculating the maximum amount of reimbursement at qualifying schools for eligible National Guard members. The department must also reimburse the applicant no later than 30 days after they receive certification of course completion.
MINING MORATORIUM SIGNED INTO LAW
Governor Walker today signed the bill that lifts the moratorium on mining gold and silver in Wisconsin, even after he voted to impose the moratorium in 1998 when he served in the state Assembly.
According to his office, the Governor believes mining can be done without harming the environment, and therefore supported the measure that lifted the ban on the practice.
Prior to his signing the legislation, sulfide mining companies had to prove that mines similar to those they propose to build have operated and been closed without polluting. Wisconsin has never issued a determination on any mining application that has satisfied the requirements, which has lead many to believe that this banned any metals that produce sulfide.
The bill will take effect in six months.
PSC APPROVES XCEL ENERGY RATE HIKES
Customers of Xcel Energy will pay more for both gas and electricity in 2018, thanks to regulators at the PSC who approved the request for increases late last week. The commission approved a request from the corporation for a $24.7 million increase in electricity and a $12 million increase for gas.
All told, the increases will increase the company's electric revenues by 1.35 percent and 8.3 percent for natural gas, and are expected to push bills up by about $2 per month for electric customers, and $4.76 or more for gas customers.
According to PSC, residential customers will see about a $3 increase just to maintain their current levels of energy usage under the plan.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
A democrat member of the State Assembly has been accused by two different women of kissing them without their consent. He says his life is now on track, and he will not be stepping down. Do you think he should resign his post?
Why did it take the women so long to bring this issue to our attention. I am starting to distrust all these allegations.
How long ago? 40 years? What ages involved?
Being drunk is a poor excuse.
Some lawmakers think they are above the law.
If he's accused does that mean it's true?
I said indifferent...but I think that the entire story needs to be told. I think that ALL the information needs to be put on the table. In this day and age where everyone is looking to take advantage of someone else, and the allegations come up long after the incident...I think that it needs to be looked into by an independent investigator.
If he were employed in the private sector he would likely be fired. he should lead by example. If he truly has his life on track he should run for re-election so his constituents (bosses) feel about his past and future.
The voters will decide.
What he did was not good, but "Slick Willy" did much, much worse things and he got away with it with no penalties and he wasn't drunk. Let this man put his life back together, but if it happens again-WHAMMO!
The penalty for unwanted advances is not resignation. Let the voters decide if they want his representation.
First off these are accusations not proven second it sounds like alcohol could have been involved on both sides if it did happen so what really happened and to who?!
After reading the article, should the state ban local governments from setting employment requirements, and instead adopt a statewide protocol?
Madison is it's own little world. Time to bring them back to reality. I am in favor of the state setting the protocol, especially for Madison.
Some local oversight is necessary. A state controlled/mandated system will have limited flexibility.
I could see a crazy mix of everything if not state control.
State needs to let local government do their thing. I know many people, and many kids, who go to Madison and Platteville for the party scene. I think it's time that college be about college, and not about increasing your alcohol and drug tolerance.
Ding, ding, this is the 100th example of the GOP not being the party of local control.
A republican bill has passed committee that would create a mandatory penalty of four years in prison for gun crimes by those with three misdemeanor or one felony conviction. Good idea or bad idea?
Time to put the dirt balls in jail where they belong.
About time we get tougher on gun laws.
Let's get real--obvious a small step to punishing criminals for using guns.
Give judges the discretion.
Whether or not harsh penalties deter crime, at least the rest of us are safer with these thugs behind bars, at least for a while. Why only four years?
Won't help matters.
I think this law will punish people that are not serious threats to our community. IE a three time check bouncer.
Moody's has downgraded Racine County's credit rating due to the large amount of debt they'll be incurring through their Foxconn incentive package. Good move or bad move?
Absolutely!! and...Absolutely!!...Corporate Welfare & Greed The state put them in this situation Moody's knows more about fiscal responsibility than I do I hope it works for them. Big risk, big reward. This is a silly question. Moody's does what they want, based on financial analysis. This whole thing is ridiculous!
Is your Christmas shopping all done for the year?
Have not started! Hate shopping, will start on Dec. 23rd. Giving gift cards to our children. Not much on our list, as we buy as we need it. Haven't started! I'm giving everyone a big bag of Arby's beef and cheddars. I usually go the week before Christmas. Drastic discounts.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Click here for more information on the bills Governor Walker signed into law.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-2582 Memo Rental Properties (Brooks, Robert) The authority of political subdivisions to regulate rental properties and historic properties and of municipalities to inspect dwellings, public utility service to rental dwelling units, landlord and tenant regulations, fees imposed by a political subdivision, certain levy limit reductions, certain procedural changes in eviction actions, information available on the consolidated court automated Internet site, discrimination in housing against individuals who keep certain animals, falsely claiming an animal to be a service animal, municipal administrative procedure, enforcement of the rental unit energy efficiency program, and providing penalties. Deadline: Friday, December 8, Noon
LRB-4625 Memo Referenda Cost Exclusion (Kooyenga, Dale) Excluding costs funded by referenda from shared costs for the purpose of determining general equalization aids for school districts. Deadline: Tuesday, December 12, 5 pm
LRB-3663 Memo Development Property (Brooks, Robert) Workforce housing development tax incremental districts; fees imposed by a political subdivision; development impact fees; local levy limits; subdivision approval conditions; plat approval conditions; occupancy permit conditions; expiration of certain project approvals made by political subdivisions; division of land by certified survey map; storm water and surface water sewerage system service charges; regulations of erosion control and storm water management by a political subdivision; limiting the ability of a political subdivision to prohibit weekend construction work by a private person; limiting the authority of a political subdivision to make or enforce ordinances that do not conform to the one-family and two-family dwelling code; relocation benefits in condemnation proceedings; prohibiting a political subdivision from limiting the size of banners on fences surrounding a construction site; and zoning ordinance amendments. Deadline: Friday, December 8, Noon
LRB-2495 Memo Gas Pump Locks (Hansen, Dave) Requiring locks on gas pumps and providing a penalty. Deadline: Friday, December 15, Noon
LRB-4959 Memo Property Transfer Repeal (Darling, Alberta) Repealing the required transfer of a certain property in the city of Milwaukee to the Wisconsin Center District. Deadline: Thursday, December 14, 5 pm
LRB-4498 Memo Real Estate Reports (Horlacher, Cody) Real estate disclosure reports, the written reports of home inspectors, and providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures. Deadline: Friday, December 15, 5 pm
LRB-3960 Memo Certified Wisconsin Beer (Krug, Scott) State-certified Wisconsin beer. Deadline: Friday, December 15, 5 pm
LRB-5015 Memo WHEDA Programs (Darling, Alberta) Notes, bonds, and economic development programs of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, homeownership mortgage loans used to refinance existing mortgages, and uses of the housing rehabilitation loan fund. Deadline: Monday, December 18, Noon
* PLEASE NOTE: ALL LISTS ABOVE ARE NOT COMPLETE LISTS OF COMMITTEE PROCEEDINGS OR BILLS BEING CIRCULATED FOR CO-SPONSORSHIP. IF YOU WOULD LIKE A COMPLETE LIST OF EITHER, OR INFORMATION ON ANY LEGISLATION LISTED ABOVE, E-MAIL INFO@WPTONLINE.ORG.