We hope that you had a great weekend, and that you had time to relax over the weekend.
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,
Last week, a plan was rumored to be making its way back into the public sphere- the plan relating to "cash poor" school districts that you will read about below. In the 90s, revenue caps were placed on school districts and are indexed to rise, so that's good news. The districts aren't literally spending the same amount of money as they were in 1993, though property taxpayers would probably love the spending cut. But when the caps were put into place, whatever dollar amount the district happened to be using at the time, was frozen and indexed to rise. So, in some respects, their ability to change their financial situations to meet the financial challenges of their districts are somewhat frozen as well. The plan that is outlined below shows that the State of Wisconsin is acknowledging that it's not meeting its commitment. The governor just reversed his "veto" from the state budget when he said he wouldn't allow certain districts with lower spending habits to raise their property taxes to meet their districts demands. He also vetoed a plan to send almost $7 million extra dollars to rural districts whose geographical student density are very low. He just reversed both decisions at the request of State Rep. John Nygren. "Why are we talking about this," you might be asking. We are talking about this because this plan will give rural school districts and school districts that have admittedly been prudent with tax dollars, the opportunity to raise property taxes to fully fund their schools. We don't always support raising property taxes, but in this case, we see the state taking responsibility, sending the additional $7 million to rural schools, and giving individual school districts the ability by which to fix their problems locally, while the state continues to study changes to the overall funding formula. We are pleased that the plan also adds protections to taxpayers in districts where voters have rejected property tax hikes by referendum. If a school district has voted down a referendum in the past three years, they will not be allowed to participate in these revenue increases. By the way, the per student spending could go from $9,100 to $9,400 and then $100 per year until it reaches $9,800. Read more below, and make sure to comment in this week's Member Poll. 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
"CASH POOR" SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO GET A BOOST
Governor Walker will now back a plan that would allow for school districts to raise property taxes in order to increase revenues for struggling school districts, in a reversal from his veto in last year's budget. The plan will also send millions of extra dollars to around 144 school districts throughout the state. If a district currently spends less than other school districts due to revenue caps, they would be able to raise taxes and spend more. Many school districts were locked into today's spending levels from 1993, around $9,000 per student, and have been struggling more in recent years to keep up with costs. Under this plan, they would be able to raise revenues from the current $9,100 per student to $9,400, and then the limit would increase $100 per year until 2022-23 school year when it caps out at $9,800. 144 more schools would receive about $6.4 million in the state for aid in rural districts, as well. According to the Governor's office, the state's finances are such that the money is now available for these districts. The plan is authored by Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairman, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).
GOVERNOR WALKER TO CLOSE TROUBLED YOUTH PRISONS LINCOLN HILLS AND COPPER LAKE
Governor Walker last week announced his administration's plans to change the troubled youth prisons at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake into prison for adults, in addition to the state building six smaller youth prisons around the state, effectively moving Wisconsin into a regional model for youth corrections. The governor's statement said that moving from one facility to several while focusing on mental health and trauma-informed care would improve outcomes for both staff and youth inmates. The facilities would open after 2019, but some inmates would be transferred out of Lincoln Hills later this year. The plan is being heralded by some democratic leaders, namely State Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee who referred to the plan as a first step in meaningful corrections reform, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele who acknowledged that the plan would help Milwaukee County.
COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON BILL RELAXING JUVENILE ARREST RECORDS
If you get into trouble and are under 18, in Wisconsin, your criminal records are automatically sealed. Most states place emphasis on juvenile records as a means to not impact the remainder of a youth's life after the age of 18. Under a new plan, however, the arrest records (which are different from criminal records) would be shared with schools by law enforcement, if a student is arrested for a violent crime. They would be required to notify the school before the start of the next school day, under the plan. School administrators would then have to notify the student's teachers. The plan would also allow teachers to request school boards to suspend students, and would be allowed to inspect a student's behavioral records. The bill will receive a public hearing in the Capitol.
WISCONSIN GROUPS JOIN PRIVATE SECTOR TO TACKLE RURAL BROADBAND
A group of Wisconsin stakeholders, including some who represent businesses, the tech industry, and rural schools, are joining a big plan by Microsoft called Connect Americans Now that is aimed at tackling the gap for rural Americans with high speed internet.
Over 23 million people in the United States have no broadband, even though local and state governments and other groups have tried to help. Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, Wisconsin Economic Development Association, Wisconsin Realtors Association, and the Wisconsin Technology Council will join the new coalition.
The strategy, according to the group, will involve a bit of technical jargon, but uses a create way to harness the "TV white space" or unused channels between active channels, to deliver internet using the 600 MHz of power, known as "Super Wi-Fi" because of its ability to travel through harsh terrain in rural areas. According to Microsoft, the plan is affordable and it has been working, though some broadcasters do not like the plan, calling Microsoft arrogant for demanding "free, unlicensed spectrum after refusing to bid on broadcast TV airwaves."
For the sake of Wisconsinites' access to information and high speed internet, we hope the coalition's efforts are successful.
'WE ENERGIES' CUSTOMERS MIGHT SEE RATE HIKE TO PAY FOR FOXCONN INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS
At a public works hearing last week, concerns were raised about Foxconn's need for a $140 million energy substation that would power the new factory's operations in Racine County. The problem is not whether or not the new substation is needed, or even the cost, but rather who would pay for it.
At least one Milwaukee alderman, Bob Bauman thinks it's unfair that WE Energies customers will need to see rate hikes in order to subsidize the new substation. He is now exploring legal options for the city of Milwaukee to object for added costs to Milwaukee residents.
The problem with this plan is that it now comes as the third hit to customers of WE Energies, who will see property tax hikes, income taxes go towards Foxconn, and now a rate hike for their personal residences, entirely unrelated to the company.
STATE FAIR AUDIT: CHANGES NEEDED
An audit of the Wisconsin State Fair and subsequent report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that some large changes are needed in the operations side of the fair. The audit that was conducted covers 2012 through 2017.
The report found poor management of purchasing procedures because they were unable to provide auditors full lists of contracts and for also awarding contracts without board approval. The state fair also, according to the report, makes purchases more than $50,000 without even having the authority to do so.
The report also found that the Wisconsin State Fair also does not have in place a plan for evaluating the conditions of its many buildings, or for scheduling renovations or replacements.
Co-chairs of the legislature's Joint Audit Committee, Senator Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) and Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem) said in a statement that they were glad the Fair is running in a safe and satisfying manner, but that based on the audit, the financial management of the Fair is "deficient."
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
I was an owner in 2 farms in Iowa in order to mainly hunt deer there. As a nonresident landowner, we were NOT guaranteed a license every year to hunt deer. As a result, I had to enter in a draw for myself or anyone in my family to obtain a license and we did NOT get a license every year, so I sold my portion to my partner who now also has sold the land. our dollars would have been a great help to the small town that our farm was near as we did and would have invested more dollars into that farm and hired local people to do things for us and purchased goods locally in that Iowa town. Do you see the similarity? This country has changed so that the supposed "wealthy" are evil people that need to be taxed more simply because they are wealthy. Chances are pretty damn good that that evil wealthy person has created many jobs and is employing alot of people.
Owning property is one thing; whether land or buildings (investment). Residing in Wisconsin with a only a portion of your total property, paying all the other taxes - Income, sales and user fees (vehicle registration/gas taxes) is totally different. Want the benefit...move to Wisconsin.
Land owners who live in WI should receive the tax breaks. IL people should invest in IL property and see what those taxes are. All owners should be treated equally. Private property owners opening up private land to the public for use? Uhh... This is heavily abused in the northern 2/3 of the state. Tresspassing is rampant, especially during gun deer season. My family will watch multiple other groups drive their land while in their deer stands... and now you want to encourage more? I'm not sure that's smart.
Going a different direction here - I'm not sure a property tax reduction is much of an incentive to open your land up to public use, even if limited. In my experience, property tax on uninhabited wilderness land in extremely low to begin with. Why would you let the public roam on your land so you could save a few bucks? To answer the above question. I think all land-owning property tax payers should be able to participate regardless of where they live. Why not? Perhaps I'm not understanding something.
Protect our forests from foreign ownership.
There shouldn't be a tax break for this at all, in-state or out of state.
If we are trying to better manage WI forest land, the program should be open to everybody.
Yes to wisconsinites only.
Actually the local company that has land that they were mining, stopped it when fuel prices dropped about a year and half ago. They had been providing jobs and actually work for us, but have not opened their operations up again.
Google Maps (and other maps) are your friend.
Can't believe it was allowed on the Wisconsin River near Prairie du Chien.
Frac sand has brought more employment and purchased more equipment to Wisconsin.
Corporations are beholden to the shareholders, not the employees or general population. What are the environmental impacts? Has there been any study of land, water, air quality...before, during and after the operations?
No experiences with them where I live.
No frac sand in my area.
Admittedly, I don't know much about frac sand mining. It sounds fine. Fracking, on the other hand does indeed do environmental harm.
I am in favor if it creates jobs and does not cause miserable living conditions for surrounding areas.
We unfortunately lost a large one that moved out of state in 2017 but the smaller and mid-sized ones remaining are doing very well and are great benefit to the area.
In our rural area factories are closing, resulting in families moving to where the jobs are.
26 years in filtration factory. 5 in various other manufacturing, metal, and plastic fabrication.
We are rural farm recreation country.
Everyone benefits; but it's not a even playing field. Most manufacturing gets some kind of incentive package which is geared for the owner/shareholder with very little benefit to the local population. Make Wisconsin better for the people who are already here and the business will come without added incentive.
NOBODY is expanding around us. You need to drive a minimum of 45 miles to find something. I think that our elected officials need to start work on fixing things like the economic disaster counties like Rusk, Taylor, counties by helping business open THERE. We have people who need jobs and are able to work - we need JOBS, and jobs that pay.
Green Bay Nonwovens- always looking for responsible people to work shiftwork
Never worked in a factory. Many in our area are "Now Hiring"
Our community has benefited from local factories; but I do not like the mandatory overtime, I have heard they are even required to work Sundays.
Rural areas need a boost, but fewer people want to live rural. Maybe if the jobs come back they will too.
What enterprise can survive without marketing? Good move. There is help wanted in every business. Not sure as millennials seem to be a wishy washy generation that feel entitled to everything they were handed to them as children, they are a "wasted" generation from what they have shown me in the workplace or in community organizations. They have a me first attitude and are not what the Wisconsin community is all about unless you are in the liberal cities like Madison.
Sounds like MORE Corporate Welfare. WHY should Gubberment 'market' jobs?
Will it take Millions of $? How idmaos. Can we train up our own population, keep the departure from WI lower.
Don't waste the money. "Work" to many is still a four-letter word. Incentivize living in Wisconsin - make it better for everyone equally and decrease the size and scope of the "safety-nets." Like the prison system - 3 hots and a cot. Safety nets are for the pensioners and truly disabled, not those who would simply rather stay in their free home, playing video games on their free tv...youtubing or facebooking on their free phones with the help of free internet.
That's a lot of money for a job posting!
7 million to try to get kids here? DUMB idea. Instead, spend that money to help new businesses open that can HIRE said people. The businesses and hiring individuals are responsible for the rest. Get the Government out of it.
just get them to work and not feel entitled to make what others who have worked for years make.
don't think that much money needs to be spent on advertising tho
I'm not totally opposed to the government doing what it can to recruit potential employees from out of state, but I believe the employers themselves ought to bear the bulk of the responsibility. I would say Wisconsin is a great place to live - great scenery, good services, somewhat normal people.
Dumb idea. Marketing for this sort of thing will have zero impact, waste of money.
Not sure what would attract millenials. Some of them apparently are a different breed.
Rural living and outdoor sports, like our Visit Wisconsin marketing but make it Work in Wisconsin where you can raise your family away from the big city
We definitely need more staff in Wisconsin
We need to do something to generate the workforce we need .3% unemployment is almost unemployable. We can't find the workforce, the economy will pick up and leave.
I love the fact that President Trump has gotten the tax law passed. This will be a huge boon for the economy and will put U.S. corporations close to a level playing field in the world economy! Ate left over ham soup and went to bed at 9:30. Try to keep our family farm afloat with another year of low prices. Would hope to see the agriculture sector have a much better year. Slept the New Year in and out. Hope for a good year money and health. n) Stayed Home. n) Vote Out Incumbents. n) Trump is Removed from POTUS. n) Peasant-Wealthy gap will continue to grow exponentially Watched a movie (DVD) and went to bed by 10:30. Old people here. Hoping for a better pay price in milk, beef and grains. 2018 does not look like a good year for any type of farmer.
I resolve to be in the truth and encourage others todo the same. Fruition - seed to plant, plant to fruit, fruit to seed...gotta come full circle. Cause and effect...action reaction. Whenever we say or do anything, there will be a consequence. Sometimes the truth hurts; but in the end it will be better than following and/or perpetuating the lie. My wife always says, "The first to self-improvement is self-awareness." We all remember, "To thine own self be true." Be honest with yourself and others, treating others the way you want to be treated. The world will never be perfect; but it can be a better place.
pay off bills & try to get ahead I hope we can successfully diversify our farm operation to give our children a chance to earn a living outside the troubled and saturated dairy sector. Don't make resolutions. I resolve to eat more Arby's. Wish politics would go away. So sick of all the political BS
Happy New Year! Rang in the new year with a pot luck and playing Tripoli with family and friends, betting nickels, buying nickels from each other and sharing shopping and gardening tips, conservative consumption of brandy old fashions, Aste Spoomante and wine. This new year I would like to eat healthier, learn how to make homemade egg nog and spend more time with family, even if it means traveling. Grateful for God, the gift of faith and good health.
More prosperity sick and didn't go out. have fun in retirement. peace all around.