Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.
This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll.
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 email@example.com.
Have a great week,
This week and next week, Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. will be featuring a guest column series regarding "dark stores," as they are most commonly labeled. In an effort to provide as much information on the issue as possible, we will feature two varying perspectives on the topic.
This week's column was authored by Corydon Fish, Director of Tax, Transportation and Legal Affairs at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
Next week, we will hear from Deputy Executive Director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Curt Witynski, and learn more about his organization's views.
The opinions expressed within guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of WPT, Inc., as our organization continues to evaluate various proposals related to "dark stores."
Local Governments Spending Taxpayer Money on Political Campaign to Raise YOUR Taxes
On June 22, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities (League) announced a spending spree to campaign in favor of a series of non-binding referenda to push for property tax hikes across Wisconsin. In this same announcement, the League and its other partners solicited minimum donations of $1,200 from every local government in the state to fund this campaign. This could mean over a million dollars of taxpayer funds handed over to a special interest group.
Make no mistake, local governments are already handing over your tax dollars to the League to run a campaign to increase property taxes. For example, the Sun Prairie City Council gave $3,000 to the League with little debate and over the vocal opposition of residents in attendance. Spending public dollars on private lobbyists and political campaigns is a violation of the public trust. Local governments should use taxpayer dollars to fund local services, not political campaigns. Further, Wisconsin has thousands of local elected officials, who already have far greater access to state elected officials than a general taxpayer does. Part of their job is to lobby the state government; they do not need to use your tax dollars to hire private lobbyists to do their jobs for them.
Now the League argues they are merely trying to close a "loophole" that has shifted the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. This argument is simply not true. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the statewide tax burden has been steadily shifted to commercial and manufacturing property (businesses) from residential property (homeowners) over the last decade, directly countering the League's argument. Instead, the League and its allies are trying to change bedrock principles of property tax law by minimizing the role that the market value of a property has in relation to its share of the property tax burden to raise taxes on businesses. These job killing tax increases will raise taxes on businesses through no fault of their own. However, the tax increases will not be contained to businesses.
The Wisconsin Constitution's Uniformity Clause will spread these tax increases to all property taxpayers.The constitution requires all property to be taxed in a uniform manner. There is not an exception that allows small businesses, manufacturers, and residential properties to be taxed differently. All businesses and residential properties will be roped into abiding by these new property tax assessment laws, which will increase their property taxes.
Increasing property taxes benefits no one. The consequences of tax hikes are very real: fewer jobs, higher consumer prices for goods and services, and more expensive housing. It is unconscionable that local governments would spend taxpayer dollars to move Wisconsin backwards by campaigning for higher taxes.
Corydon Fish is the Director of Tax, Transportation & Legal Affairs at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
FISCAL BUREAU RELEASES REVENUE ESTIMATES FOR ONLINE SALES TAX
After the Supreme Court ruled last month that states may collect sales tax from online retailers who have no physical presence in those states, revenue estimates are popping up all over the nation, and Wisconsin is no exception.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Wisconsin could collect somewhere between $123 and $187 million annually from new online revenues, and the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released new numbers indicating that the average income taxpayer in the state could receive around $52 in income tax reductions if the state chose to use the new revenues to do so.
While some legislative and rule maneuvering is likely to close up various loopholes, Governor Walker has indicated returning all new revenues to taxpayers, likely in the form of a tax cut elsewhere. That is made much easier due to a 2013 state law that requires increases in sales tax revenues to
go toward lowering income taxes. Walker has said that any necessary changes to Wisconsin law required to give the money back in other forms would happen during the next budget. That process begins at the end of this year.
UNFUNDED LIABILITIES STILL A MAJOR ISSUES ACROSS THE STATE
Chances are, if you live in one of Wisconsin's 25 largest cities, you are on the hook for a massive amount of unfunded public liabilities, including healthcare for retirees of local government units.
According to a new report, those 25 largest cities have a total of $2.25 billion in unfunded programs, and those numbers are only from 2013 and 2016, and only in those cities. Nearly $230 million in increases were posted in Milwaukee and Racine alone.
According to the AP, the report found that "cities took on the liabilities by promising generous health care benefits to workers after they retired, sometimes in exchange for lower pay raises. The costs quickly add up, the report found, because some city workers such as police and other public safety employees can retire in their early 50s with the same health benefits and monthly premiums as active employees."
In that time frame, Racine alone saw a 24 percent increases, or about $97 million. The City of Appleton saw a 20 percent increase between those three years, with Manitowoc having the largest increase of liabilities- 80 percent. On the opposite side, the City of La Crosse raised various measures for costs, and phased out retiree health care plans after 2014. That move alone netted the city a 13 percent reduction.
HORTONVILLE AXES PLAN FOR WHEEL TAX
With the City of Green Bay's impending vote on a wheel tax, a village board in (relatively) nearby Hortonville voted 4-2 to put debate on the topic to an end, and revisit at a different time.
Prior to the board voting, a straw poll was conducted of 15 people in attendance, in which eight voters supported the wheel tax, and seven did not. According to one official, the issue will come up again in as early as six months. Estimates say that a $20 wheel tax could generate over $100,000 each year, and might take some burden off of property taxpayers, who are currently on the hook for street assessments.
Even nearer to Hortonville, the City of Appleton implemented a $20 wheel tax in 2015, and generates $1.35 million each year. The current list of municipalities collecting wheel taxes are Appleton, Arena, Beloit, Eden, Evansville, Fort Atkinson, Gillett, Iron Ridge, Janesville, Kaukauna, Lodi, Milton, Milwaukee, New London, Platteville, Portage, Prairie du Sac, Sheboygan, and Tigerton. Counties collecting the tax are Chippewa, Dane, Green, Iowa, Lincoln, Marathon, Milwaukee, and St. Croix.
GOVERNOR WALKER ANNOUNCES FINAL NUMBERS FOR CHILD TAX REBATE
Governor Walker announced last week that more than 555,000 families will be receiving the $100-per-child tax rebate before the start of the next school year.
"It is great to see well over half a million households benefit from the Child Tax Rebate, said Governor Walker. "Parents and grandparents all over Wisconsin have told me about how important the $100-per-child was to them. Getting ready for school can be a real financial challenge and the rebate will help so many families. Plus, the Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday starts in less than a month."
Parents who claimed their $100-Per-Child Tax Rebate will receive a check in the mail or a direct deposit before the start of the upcoming school year. Those eligible needed to apply by June 2.
TAMMY BALDWIN AUTHORS 'MADE IN AMERICA' BILL
A new bill by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin would require that the federal government use American-made iron and steel for manufacturing materials that go into infrastructure projects.
In 1982, Congress passed the Buy America Act, which mandated that all infrastructure projects being conducted by the federal government for railroads and highways use American-made materials. The new legislation would extend that legislation. According to reports, about $10 billion in tax dollars are used each year to purchase materials for projects that are not covered under the current Buy America Act.
Baldwin said that she and President Trump have spoken about jobs, and that she believes he would sign the legislation, if given the chance. Earlier in the year, President Trump said he "100 percent" supported a Baldwin-backed provision regarding drinking water earlier this year. President Trump has also included several Baldwin initiatives in his spending bills, including the Dairy Pride Act, and extensions to farmer safety net programs.
CLASS III MILK PRICES ANNOUNCED
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that the June Class III milk price was set at $15.21 per hundredweight, an increase of three cents from May, but $1.23 from June of last year. The Class IV price was 34-cents more than May at $14.91, but still $1.69 less than last year.
Class III milk price has averaged $14.41 so far in 2018.
The average price that farmers received for their milk was $16.70 per hundredweight in May, up 40 cents from last month, but down 70 cents from a year ago.
WEDC SELECTS SIX NEW COMMUNITIES FOR DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION PROGRAM
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has accepted six new organizations into its Connect Communities Program, an initiative that works with communities to advance downtown and urban corridor revitalization efforts.
With the latest additions, there are now 71 participants in the program, which provides access to resources and training to help downtown organizations pursue revitalization and redevelopment efforts. Since the program was launched in 2013, participating communities have reported adding 272 net new businesses and more than 1,600 jobs, and $115 million in private investment.
The new participants are Land O'Lakes, Montello, Sparta, Tennyson, Wausaukee, and Waukesha.
Prior to being accepted into the program, applicants had to explain the type of activities or assistance that they hope to understate as part of the program, and identify a local team that will be responsible for carrying out activities and participating in program events and training.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Cranberry growers are seeking permission from the USDA to limit production in order to lower stocks and increase prices. Do you think this model could work for the dairy industry?
they need to try someting to save the industry in WI it too impotant to loss
If Grassland Dairy (the milk orocessor) does not need OR WANT the milk from 70 farms.... Grassland Dairy should be FORBIDDEN from being an "investor" in a CAFO.
This may work for the cranberry industry, but not so likely for dairy, as other states will take those possible gains.
I used to be a dairy farmer, and they are too independent to make something like this work. The reverse is true, whenever prices go up the bigger dairies tend to add another freestall barn and the little family farms play catch up before the increases drop the prices back down. I think the cranberry growers are making a great decision.
Its about time that dairy do some thing for over production as I seen on TV that we have excessive amount of cheese in storage. These large daries are destroying smaller farmers and another problem is financial institutions are a nother problem telling farmers they have to add more cows for their benifit d
Good move by cranberry growers.
The law of supply/demand usually works.
Not being in the industry, who are we to say what's best for them?
You need to get rid of large farm operations. They are wrecking the price structure by over producing. A network of smaller farms is key to regulating production, and increasing prices.
we are a world market so should the us. at least !
Corporate mega Farms have no self control
Of course it could work, but food processors may not like paying more for commodities.
It is simple Econ.101-Supply&Demand.Would the dairy farmers agree to do it? The Canadians have a quota system that seems to work.
The Supreme Court last week issued a decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case, and ruled that public sector unions can no longer collect mandatory fees. Good ruling or bad ruling?
the extreme politics of the union brought this on themselves
Public employee unions are only an extension of the Democrat Party, and it is unfair to make all employees support one political party whether they agree with its platform or not. I thought this only happened in third world countries.
MY experience with unions is too many fat cats living off all employees even if they didn't belong to the union so let employees that belong to union support these fat cats
Absolutely! No one should be forced to join any organization by a law.
I was a member of a public sector union that did nothing for me other than take my monthly membership dues. I could have used that money for my family and other expenses.
I supported Act 10 but after 8 years, I admit I was wrong. Unions are responsible for the size of the middle class. As Unions get undercut, the middle class is undercut. Plain and simple. Capital and technology is destroying labor. Good luck, children.
Unions are running on past, soon to die
It definitely makes to work of a union much harder.
Hurray-Hurray Hurray! It's called "freedom of association"!
Some health insurers are suing the federal government, alleging they reneged on required payments designed to help the companies mitigate risk under the Affordable Care Act. But now, that law has been drastically reshaped.
Do you think the government should still be required to make payments to the companies?
government health care is not the answer
One (of several) Fixes NEEDED: ELIMINATE (PROHIBIT & CRIMINALIZE) the Collusion, Blackmail & Extortion purveyed upon consumers BY Insurance & Providers Collusion: .... Those "Networks" & "Negotiated" prices on services. Especially when the Insurance Company IS the provider Blackmail & Extortion: Higher deductibles & out of pocket ... Even IF the out of network provider/ procedure costs LESS
If the payment is gruels due them, then yes.
The Afforable Care Act, would have never became law if the greedy Insurance Companies would have not bowed down to the pressure put on them by the Obama Administration. A carrot was waved in from of them and they took it hook, line and sinker at the sake of what was an already crumbling healthcare system because of the burden placed on it by all the illegal border crossers without insurance. They made this bed now they can deal with it like all Americans have to, a healthcare system that has been overtaken by for profit CEOs and board of directors instead of an organization started by churches to help those who need medical attention. This what happens when matters regarding "faith" are no longer deemed as acceptable by our politically correct society.
Obamacare was a disaster from the start
I think it's fair. The Affordable Care Act was a massive crap show, and it is nothing but a horror for the people of this nation. It has NOTHING in it to make care affordable, except subsidies. Which means taxes go up. This model needs to be thrown out.
Insurance companys deserve a little dose of reality. Unfortunately they will just pass the cost on to the consumer like they always have. Even if the government did make good on payments, they would probably raise their rates anyhow!
Why should the Government get out of paying what they said they would in the first place! I am SO SICK of switching insurance companies EVERY YEAR since Obamacare started,, NOW the last 2 years I cannot keep my doctors that I have had for over 40 years!
maybe the politicians whom voted for affordable care act without reading the bill should be held accountable for payment
If the payments are within conservative limits yes. Insurance companies will do anything to destroy Obamacare because it makes them cover pre-existing conditions and other mandatory healthcare items. I support Medicare for All so all citizens can count on decent health care.
Why should the gov't get away with not living up to their obligations?
Harley-Davidson has said it will move production of some of its motorcycles overseas, in response to tariffs from Europe. Good move or bad move?
Harley has to take care of business
Good for them, bad for us.
I understand what they are thinking about, but quite honestly thought the company would have fought a little harder or at least held out to see if things could be resolved, they just gave the Europeans more leverage, and sold the American workers out for their bottom line.
Harley already mades motorcycles in other countries
Can't survive if your losing money.
Actually Harley-Davidson said over two years ago that they were considering moving some operations overseas. The press did not say much about that.
Think they should keep production here.
I chose "good move" but only because HD has to do what they think is best for them. Trump's stupid trade war is killing jobs.
Businesses will do what they need to do. This whole tarriff thing is a mess. EU slaps tarriffs/VAT on virtually every thing. US wants tariffs and the sky is falling. A difficult subject.
Stay here. Be proud. Do what you do, and let the tariffs increase your price. It'll just make the brand more valuable to people who "got to have it"
Harley Davidson is struggling and looking for hand outs thing of the past new generations are not buying harleys
Harley makes motorcycles to make a profit, not to help President Trump generate tarrifs.
Good move for Harley-Bad move for U.S.
Last weekend, Wisconsin experienced dangerously high temperatures and humidity, and many of those conditions are expected to stick around for part of the next week. What do you do during hot weather to stay cool? Do you work outside? How do you get reprieve from the heat? Does the heat force you to stay indoors, or do you brave the weather regardless?
slow down and drink lots of water
Working in the private sector over the last 36 yrs. I have learned Wisconsinites do not turn on the AC until the stat reaches 80. Keeping the window blinds & doors closed makes for a much more comfortable environment. Moving a floor fan around with me helps. When outdoors, one simply endures with water, ice, shade.
I grew up on a dairy farm and milked cows in stanchion barn for over 25 years myself, its all about mind over matter. I still take care of the things I need to get accomplished whatever the weather. The deer fly and mosquito bother me more than the hot weather! I just stay hydrated with WATER and take a break in the shade when I need to. I would much rather work outdoors in the heat and humidity than in 20 degrees below zero!
sweat it out an drink a lot of water
try to stay air conditioning.
I don't mind the heat as long as it's not too humid - but I can't tolerate the mosquitos. I remember saying, over 30 years ago, that the mosquitos always become bad around the 4th of July. Nothings changed.
I stay inside the house with two small air conditioners going and ceiling fans. Keep drinking water. My husband goes out in this heat and works in the barn.
I hate the heat. Crank the A/C.
We have a retail store and offer our customers and employees an air conditioned environment. It's the same temperature for our customers and employees 365 days a year.
Stay in, enjoy air conditioning, play lots of games with the family.
Work more indoors..doing "catch up" jobs
Stay hydrated. Work outside early in the morning or into the evening. Mid- day stay indoors with air conditioning and fans.
I raked 31 acres of hay on my (only) tractor that is without a cab and air conditioning.Drank lots of cold water and went into our air conditioned house for lunch. Didn't hurry back out after lunch.
Air-conditioning is a blessing.
It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization enjoys our responsibility for fostering dialogue within our membership, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.