We hope you had an enjoyable extended weekend, as our nation remembered those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy as U.S. citizens.
This week, we will take a closer look at the latest news headlines from the Capitol and around Wisconsin. We will also introduce you to our latest Property Taxpayer of the Week, and share last week's Member Poll results.
We would also like to remind our farm members that WPT's Weekly AgAlert sign-up is still open, and we have been receiving incredible feedback. If you would like a news roundup delivered to your e-mail once per week, outlining all of the latest ag-related headlines, click the button below.
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, WPT is proud to introduce readers to Ken Reemtsma, owner of Color Vision Printing, Ltd., located just outside of Edgar, WI. Ken took the time to share a bit about his story, and journey to owning his current business.
Ken was born in Berlin, WI, but at a young age, moved to Argyle, IL, where his father became the pastor of a Presbyterian church.
"At that time, Argyle was a small Scottish farm community with a 3-room schoolhouse; a rural community that helped promote a strong work ethic, a fervent pride in oneself and a sound moral compass," Ken explained. "Our family would vacation in Wisconsin where we found various campgrounds and lakes to appreciate and enjoy."
It was at also at a young age when Ken realized his love for business.
"At a young age the entrepreneurial spirit moved me, as I began picking and selling night crawlers and worms in 5th grade," he said. "I cultivated my fledgling business by franchising two of my friends who lived closer to the lake. They sold what I had provided them, which was much better than throwing the inventory in the garden after many had died."
"I always had the desire to own any kind of business."
Ken and his wife Judy purchased an 80-acre hobby farm, and moved to Wausau in 1976. He said the move to Wisconsin made him feel like he was going on one of his family's vacations again, and brought back fond memories.
"With that move came the opportunity to own my first grownup business," he shared.
He dabbled in insulation for a while, which turned into replacement windows, solar heating panels, and water condition, followed by sales of investment-grade diamonds.
"[After that] a friend approached me with the notion of building a 2-state wide marketing organization centered around the sales of phone book covers," Ken explained, noting his initial reluctance.
"That industry as a whole did not entirely intrigue me, so I moved on to create advertising and promotional materials that I wished had been available to me while building and fostering my other businesses of the past, such as direct mail, business to business advertising, programs that created new customer base and lasting for 30 days to one year."
The operation grew, and the product outsourced their manufacturing, then distributed throughout the local area.
"I began to purchase equipment to facilitate profitability," he said. "This out of a 3-car garage with my remarkably supportive wife and eventually three wonderful children."
With the work ethic he learned as a child in Argyle, the company continued to grow.
"Besides family helping with various aspects, a few employees came into view. We grew from the space afforded us in the garage and moved to a small building meant for manufacturing. Eventually outgrowing that space, the time was right to move the business with its five employees into a 15,000 square foot building just outside of Edgar along Highway 29."
Even that location has grown to 35,000 square feet, and the scope of the business has broadened.
"We have changed our marketing direction along the way and now employ a staff of 65 employees. This growth can be attributed to the employees and my desire to fulfill a vision with investment in our future," he said.
And today, Ken keeps up with the times.
"We are now considered a printer for the trade and primarily work with brokerage houses and their associates. We support them with a wide variety of items. In addition to several large in-house presses, we have capability of high speed digital and flatbed printing, screen printing, embroidery, and mail fulfillment as well as a host of projects to which we just cannot say 'no.' "
Ken told us that his plans for the future changed in a seven-figure way.
"Recently, I thought retirement was on the horizon," he said. "Rather, Color Vision LTD has invested in a large Fuji J-Press inkjet press that will bridge the gap between digital and offset printing projects; a solid million-dollar commitment that will help carry Color Vision LTD into the future with cutting edge products."
WPT wishes Ken, his family, and the entire team at Color Vision LTD continued prosperity in their undoubtedly long and successful future.
To learn more about Color Vision LTD or inquire about their services, visit colorvisionprinting.com, or call (715) 352-7000.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
GOV. WALKER AWARDS $7.8 MILLION IN BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES TO SCHOOLS
Governor Walker last week visited Mosinee School District to announce that 252 school districts across Wisconsin were being awarded $7.8 million in Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) Information Technology Infrastructure grants.
By going through an application process, grants were made available for fiscal year 2018 to eligible school districts with 16 or fewer students per square mile. This means that the most rural of school districts were awarded the critically-needed funds.
Governor Walker said he was pleased to make the announcement.
"We are investing more actual dollars into public classrooms than ever before, increased technology in the classroom will help our students excel and further position Wisconsin to win the 21st century."
A list of school districts receiving the awards is available here.
LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS RELEASED
The Department of Workforce Development has released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin. The numbers include updates to March 2018, and preliminary estimates for April 2018. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted, but some of the highlights were:
April unemployment numbers declined in all twelve Wisconsin metro areas when compared over the year to April 2017. The rates ranged from 1.9 percent in Madison to 3.2 percent in Racine. Janesville-Beloit experienced the largest year over year decline of 0.9 percent, followed by Racine's 0.7 percent drop. Nine of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas experienced (or tied) their lowest April unemployment rate on record in 2018.
The numbers also showed that April unemployment rates decreased in all of the state's 32 largest cities when compared over the year. Beloit experienced the largest year over year decline of 1.6 percent, followed by a decline in the City of Milwaukee of 0.9 percent. The lowest was 1.7 percent in Fitchburg, and highest was 4.1 percent in Racine. Nineteen of the state's 32 largest cities experienced their lowest April unemployment numbers on record.
The preliminary numbers for counties showed that rates declined or stayed the same in 63 of Wisconsin's 72 counties when compared from April this year to April of 2017. Florence County had the largest decline of 1.1 percent since April of last year, and Rock County had the second largest decline of 0.9 percent. Dane County had the lowest unemployment, tied with Lafayette County, and Iron County had the largest unemployment at 7.9 percent. Forty-five of the state's 72 counties experienced or tied their lowest April rates on record.
IN BURIAL SITE RULING, WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DENIES WINGRA EXCAVATION REQUEST
Last Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled without explanation that a concrete company cannot excavate Native American burial mounds located with its quarry. Wingra Redi-Mix had been fighting for eight years to dig up effigy mounds within its Blooming Grove quarry, but met resistance because the mounds are listed in the state's Historical Society, which denied their request for permit to excavate.
In an unusual situation, Justice Kelly recused himself from participation in the case, leaving the ultimate decision deadlocked with a 3-3 decision. When this happens, the lower appellate court's decision stands. Equally as unusual is the lack of explanation given by the justices for both Kelly's withdrawal, or which way justices voted in the decision.
In the 2015 legislative session, Republican lawmakers sought to assist Wingra, authoring legislation that would have allowed for digging to determine whether human remains were present at the site. With the winds of opposition from Ho-Chunk and the Historical Society facing the company, a court found that the Ho-Chunk have a vested interest in all Native American burial sites in Southern Wisconsin, because the region was the original homeland of the tribe.
FOXCONN DENIES REPORT OF COMPANY CHANGING WISCONSIN PLANS
Leaders of Foxconn, the Taiwanese company positioned to received nearly $5 billion in Wisconsin tax incentives and subsidies in exchange for building a campus to manufacture large liquid crystal display screens, is denying a report by Nikkei Asian Review which claims the company is planning to instead build small to medium-sized displays at its future Wisconsin location.
If the report was true, it would be a large deviation from their intentions to build large liquid crystal display panels, and could minimize or narrow their operations in Wisconsin.
The company responded by saying that it could "categorically state" that their end of the agreement is going unchanged, including 13,000 jobs, and an investment of $10 billion USD for their "state-of-the-art Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park."
If Foxconn were to change their plans in Wisconsin by reducing the operation, the amount of tax credits from the state would also be reduced, as per their agreement.
Still, legislative democrats in Madison were quick to call foul, raising serious concerns in a bevy of press releases and statements throughout the day questioning the integrity of the company, and calling into question similar agreements Foxconn had made in other states. The Walker administration, including officials from WEDC, punted to Foxconn officials for a response.
STRONG FIRST-QUARTER FOR WISCONSIN BANKS
Wisconsin's banks' profits rose 22 percent in the first-quarter of this year, with increased lending and happy corporations on the heels of federal tax changes.
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the 210 banks that call Wisconsin home saw a $342 million net profit January through March, compared to the first-quarter of 2017, when their profits reached $280 million. In the first three months of this year, non-recurring loans and leases dropped to 0.83 percent from 1.04, but new loans and leases jumped by 5 percent to nearly $82 billion.
Wisconsin-based Associated bank saw the highest net profit in the state, with $80.1 million. Racine's Johnson Bank posted $14.7 million, Nicolet National Bank in Green Bay saw a $9.7 million profit, National Exchange Bank in Fond du Lac, had $7.9 million, and Manitowoc-based Bank First National realized $7.3 million.
Compared to other states, however, Wisconsin banks fell a bit behind the curve, with the nationwide average profit jumping 27.5 percent from last year's first quarter, totaling $56 billion.
Wisconsin banks with the largest losses in Q1 were Equitable Bank in Wauwatosa ($661,000), Markesan State Bank ($262,000), Jackson County Bank ($162,000), State Bank of Gresham ($132,000), and Benton State Bank ($124,000).
15,000 NEW IMMIGRATION VISAS ISSUED FOR SEASONAL NON-FARM EMPLOYEES
According to President Trump's administration, 15,000 additional H-2B visas will be issued for temporary non-agricultural workers in 2018.
The decision, announced by the Department of Homeland Security, is aimed at helping alleviate stress put on American businesses during the tourist season int he summer. Businesses informed the federal government that a lack in approved visas had them on the "brink of economic ruin," according to one report.
66,000 visas have been issued so far, but for the first time, participants were chosen through a lottery system, rather than the first-come, first-served method as in years past.
While U.S. law only allowed for 66,000 total to be issued between summer and winter seasons, a clause in the omnibus spending bill earlier this year included an increase to the number of visas allowed.
WISCONSIN AMONG STATES WITH MOST LAW ENFORCEMENT DRONE USAGE
According to a new study by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, the number of law enforcement agencies nationwide using drones is on the rise, with more uses for the aircrafts being explored daily.
The study shows that the number of law enforcement agencies using drones has actually doubled since the end of 2016, and estimates show that nearly 1,000 agencies own and operate the controversial machines and have formed "drone units" within their departments. Those numbers include local police, sheriffs departments, fire, and emergency services, as well.
Also discovered in the study were the states with the top law enforcement drone usage. Texas, California, and our very own Wisconsin were named the top three states.
In the Wisconsin Law Journal, an article cited a source as reassuring the public that drones are being used only in emergency situations, and not being used to spy on individuals. Additionally, about one third of the states using the aircrafts are required to obtain warrants before using a drone in a criminal investigation.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Governor Walker last week sent a directive to state agencies, ordering that they do not increase any spending in the next state budget. After reading the article: Good idea or bad idea?
Not fair to the exempt agencies.
More Corporate Welfare planned?
some are over budgeted and some like transportation are short
THere should be some balancing of budget, give and take by all
Let's get some good roads in this state!
About time government agencies have to deal with the realities of life like the rest of us!
Need to improve efficiency.
Not good if the roads are included in the no increase portion
How the heck will the potholes get filled without an increase!
We need better ROADS,so why doesn't he do something about that?
DOT needs funds to fix the infrastructure
Fix the roads
So the magic revenue fairy isn't going to rescue the GOP from all their tax cuts? Who would have thought.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week opened the doors for states to legalize sports gambling. Do you think Wisconsin should begin the long journey toward legalizing sports gambling?
Let me get this straight...government should be able to tell people how they can and cannot spend their money? How does betting on sports cause harm to anybody? How does filling out an NCAA tournament bracket even compare to some of the things that take place in casinos?
We have enough gambling going on in our state.
Don't know enough about this and it does sound a bit complicated to get it going. On the other hand, people should be able to spend their money anyway they want to spend it.
lets end tribal casino also what is positive about it?
I don't gamble that way, I am against this. THere are already other forms in state to gamble.
Gambling on farming is enough for me.
there's enough people with gambling problems already - put thier energy in job training and working at productive jobs or volunteering
Too easy to get addicted to ambling.
Farming is enough gambling for us.
Politicians love to figure out new taxes.We don't need more gambling!
Gambling is a tax on the stupid. I'm all for it.
Tax relief would be nice. I don't understand the big deal about gambling. If you want to throw away your money, do it.
Governor Walker hinted at the State of Wisconsin taking over the Milwaukee Public School district. After citing the district's many shortcomings, he called it a moral imperative. What are your thoughts?
The state should step in and help the school with why the children are failing, but not take over the school district. What about the other school districts, will he take over them too,, it would not be fair.
Take over the districk... AND ... FULLY Fund the district!!!! .... See how well the "State" cab 'balance' the district budget!!!!
It's there a precedence for this?
We already have dept of education, fire the dept head
Who measures if a school is failing?
THey have had numerous opportunities to make own decisions, apparently not working. NEed to make job place secure for teachers too. NEed to maintain classroom dignity.
Can the state do any better when it takes an executive order to make people to their jobs.
I don't think it's wise that the state take over the district. However, it's obvious that the school boards and their respective superintendents aren't doing the job. Instead of taking over the districts, maybe it's time to call for the immediate resignation of all school board members in Milwaukee, as well as their superintendents, and none of them can be put back on as new vote-ins or new hires for 10 years? Drain that swamp!
more government is never the solution
Yes, can't keep throwing money at an unsolvable problem.
I thought the governor was for local control. That does not sound like local control
I dfon't know how the state will make it any better.
MPS has been failing for 50 years, and will fail for another 50 regardless of who is running the district. Why not let the State take a shot at it, and share in the failure? Can't be worse.
Nearly 300,000 people have claimed the $100-per-child tax rebate. Have you or anybody you know claimed the credit, or plan to claim the credit?
It sure will help the parents.
poor program, fix our roads
A lot of money business and a waste of money, should have just applied the excess to the school systems
Election year boondangle. Hey parents remember me Scott Walker at the polling booth!
It's nice for families,but a hundred bucks doesn't go very far.I guess every little bit helps. It is good that the taxpayers are getting at least a little of their money back.
I plan to donate my rebate to politicians who didn't vote for the rebate.