Thanks for reading another WPT Weekly Insider. We hope your work week is off to a great start.
This week will bring you our weekly Property Taxpayer of the Week, News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, 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,
Last week, we received a couple of inquiries regarding Foxconn and the water diversion plan requested by, and approved for the factory. The DNR's approval allows for the City of Racine to pull and divert 7 million gallons of water per day to Mount Pleasant, with expectations for factory consumption reaching around 5.8 million gallons per day.
Specifically, those who e-mailed in wanted more specifics about the amounts of water in question.
According to the DNR, of the 5.8 million gallons per day consumed by Foxconn, about 2.7 million gallons would not be returned to the lake, but instead would be consumed by manufacturing or evaporation in the process.
While the 7 million gallon rightfully gives many people pause, when you measure it next to the overall volume of water in Lake Michigan, a broader perspective begins to emerge. By the DNR's calculations, 2.7 million gallons per day is equivalent to 200 millionths of one percent of the water in Lake Michigan. As one source put it, "the Foxconn plant could run at full tilt for 13,000 years, before draining one percent of the water from the lake."
Currently, MillerCoors in Milwaukee is the largest private consumer of Lake Michigan water, with a whopping 1.1 million gallons per day. The City of Milwaukee in 2017 used 96.1 million gallons per day, and its neighbor to the south, Chicago, drew about one billion gallons per day.
As would be expected for any project with an environmental impact this large, advocacy groups have voiced a tremendous amount of concern with the diversion plan, primarily regarding the precedent the plan sets for future companies wishing to locate along Lake Michigan.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
GOVERNOR ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER TARGETING INEFFICIENCY IN STATE GOVERNMENT
Governor Walker last week signed Executive Order #288, which implements recommendations from the Governor's Commission on Government Reform, Efficiency, and Performance. According to Walker's office, the plan is intended to implement "measures that will make government more efficient and responsible to hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers."
By the Governor's signature, the Department of Administration and multiple state agencies are ordered to adopt several recommendations, including:
-The Department of Administration will combine the Office of Lean Government with the Division of Executive Budget and Finance and any other administrative units as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Administration.
-The Division of Executive Budget and Finance will study innovative enterprise-wide initiatives that make government more efficient and effective while identifying the capacity of government improve services at reduced cost to taxpayers.
-The Secretary of the Department of Administration will designate a Chief Economist responsible for coordinating with state agencies to conduct regular revenue estimates, economic outlooks, and informative reports for the Governor and other policymakers.
-State agencies will work with the Department of Administration, Division of Enterprise Operations, to identify procurement savings opportunities, reduce purchased services and contracts, and make state vehicle purchasing, maintenance, and operating policies more effective.
-State agencies will submit a plan to the Department of Administration, State Controller's Office, outlining strategies to minimize paper-based finance operations, with the goal of eliminating paper-based payments and maximizing the use of electronic exchange.
-State agencies will review their current practices and enter into debt collection agreements where necessary with the Department of Revenue to perform collections on agency debts outstanding longer than 90 days unless an exemption is granted by the Secretary of the Department of Revenue pursuant to current law.
TOURISM SPENDING RISES FOR EIGHTH STRAIGHT YEAR
Direct spending on tourism in Wisconsin for 2017 rose 3.17 percent or $12.7 billion, totaling $20.6 billion, according to the Department of Tourism. This is the eighth year in a row where the state has made gains in tourism, and it's a good sign for the future.
According to the numbers, tourism impacts all Wisconsin counties, though some brought in far more than others. Milwaukee County came in first with around $2 billion, marking an increase of three percent. As expected Dane County came in second at $1.2 billion. Sauk County, likely due to the Wisconsin Dells and other popular attractions, came in third, with $1.1 billion.
Three Wisconsin counties saw double digit increases in tourism spending. Spending in Florence County rose by nearly 17 percent, Eau Claire County by nearly 13 percent, and Chippewa County by nearly 11 percent. Eight counties saw decreases.
According to a statement by Governor Walker's office, visitor volumes topped 110 million visits, tourism directly and indirectly supports 195,255 jobs in Wisconsin, and visitors to the state generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue, $1.2 billion in federal revenue, ultimately saving Wisconsin taxpayers $660 per household.
WITH TEST RESULTS IN, WALKER RELEASES PLAN TO COMBAT CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
Data from a year-long test between April 1st of last year and March 31st of this year, showed a prevalence rate of about 6.1 percent, pushing Governor Walker to issue several orders to combat the disease.
By the numbers, 600 of 9,882 deer analyzed tested positive for CWD, and of the 50 deer tested since the conclusion of the test, three more tested positive.
Governor Walker released a three-step plan, referring to the measures as "aggressive."
-Require enhanced deer farm fencing through a new DATCP rule. Currently, farmers are required to have an eight-foot fence. Enhanced fending would require either: a second eight-foot-fence, an electric fence, or an impermeable physical barrier to meet the emergency rule's requirements.
-Control the movement of potentially infected deer through the creation of a new DATCP rule banning the movement of live deer from deer farms in CWD-affected counties.
-Preventing containment from hunted deer carrying CWD by tasking the DNR to create emergency and permanent rules banning the movement of deer carcasses from CWD-affected counties. Under the rule, hunters can still quarter the deer within the county it was harvested and then take the meat anywhere in the state, but no portion of the spinal cord may be attached or moved. A hunter who harvests a deer in a CWD-affected county may only move a whole carcass outside of the county if the carcass is delivered to a licensed taxidermist or meet processor.
Wisconsin hunting ranchers and deer farmers responded with their concerns, as well, saying the Governor's plan could drive them out of business, and warned that if the state forces destruction of their private herds, taxpayers could be on the hook.
A statement by the Whitetails of Wisconsin representing 376 deer farms throughout the state, called the plan redundant and unnecessary.
ECONOMIC GROWTH SLOWED SLIGHTLY IN 2017
According to new figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department, Wisconsin's gross domestic product increased by 1.7 percent in 2017, which was slightly slower than the 1.9 percent increases in both of the two prior years.
A positive outlook came in the fourth quarter, when the state's growth reached 3.1 percent, making it the highest in the Midwest and ranking 8th among all 50 states. The Lone Star State saw 5.2 percent growth, giving Texas the #1 ranking.
Durable goods manufacturing had the biggest impact on the state's economy, contributing a massive 0.41 percent of the 1.7 increase statewide. Also offering contributions were wholesale trade, non-durable goods manufacturing, real estate, and healthcare.
GROUNDWATER CONCERNS GROW IN CENTRAL WISCONSIN
Possible groundwater contamination in Central Wisconsin has fears and tensions growing, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arrived last week to investigate ongoing complaints over potential health impacts caused by farm pollution in local water.
Agents from the EPA began, what some call, a large-scale presence in Juneau County, where they began drilling wells near Central Sands Dairy to begin testing groundwater. Local officials have also begun testing residential homes. The EPA will also set up an operation in Wood County to begin testing there, as well.
Crews were estimated to drill 41 bore holes in total, with some reaching depths of 49 feet, according to an EPA representative, who assured local residents that if contaminants are found, their agency will work with state and local officials to design a solution.
STATE BEING SUED FOR DENYING MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR GENDER IDENTITY SURGERY
Two low-income transgender residents of Wisconsin are claiming that the state is unlawfully denying them taxpayer-subsidized Medicaid coverage that would help them "confirm their gender identities," according to the federal lawsuit.
Baraboo resident Ann Makenzie and Green Bay resident Cody Flack said they "need additional surgery," but cannot afford to pay for the procedures on their own. They claim that because the state classifies these types of procedures with others such as "tattoo removal" and "earlobe repair," the state has denied their requests as "medically unnecessary." The lawsuit charges that there is no real basis for the coverage exclusion.
One plaintiff, 30-year-old Cody Flack has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair. Flack's only income is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and was seeking a breast reduction surgery when denied by Medicaid. Plaintiff Makenzie also relies solely on SSI, and is seeking Medicaid funds for "genital reconstruction," and said she previously borrowed $5,000 to pay for a prior surgery.
Nineteen states in America expressly cover Medicaid treatments for "gender transition" treatments, while Wisconsin and nine other states expressly deny the coverage. The remaining states do not have a specific policy.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Foxconn has been given environmental approvals to emit hazardous materials into the air, and consume 5.8 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan. If you were one of the DNR officials making the decision:
the air quality and water usage standards must be parameters set by legislature for all industry not interpretations set by a government agency
Are you kidding? This Foxconn thing is a joke.
Why do they rate over WI businesses? Big job possibility numberes will look great for Walker. Had a telephone repair man to restore our service, waited 8 days. He says they are 3 techs down. Jobs are out there but people are too fussy. Who knows what FoxConn will pay?
We've already given them WAY too much!! Im starting to wonder if this is indeed good for WI?!?!
what do we do with 5.8 million gallons of used water each day? where does it go? How is it treated or cleaned? What long term environmental impact will this have on Lake Michigan and the environment? These are things we need to know.
Don't want to lose Foxconn,but how much crud are they going to emit?
On the landlord question on the past edition, tenants go thru carpet and flooring faster than I replace it in my own home. I am a Landlord, they never call when they don't plan on paying rent, or seek help from availble comm. assist.
Foxconn has been given many advantages. They need to prove that they can keep water and air clean with their new technologies.
I think that this Foxconn deal is a bad for Wisconsin taxpayers and just a schem to make Governor Walker look good.
The question I have is Foxconn have the ability to return pure water back to Lake Michigan
5.8 MILLION gallons of water per day!???? How do they clean it and return it to the environment?
Nearly every industry emits some pollutants. I'm certain the DNR has looked at this and weighed the factors.
keep our Great Lakes great - Foxconn hasn't made good on any promises yet
Why would the DNR approve this when they are so strict on everything else??
I think we need to give them room but also make sure they don't push the limits on the environment
Foxconn should go through the same approval process as any corporation. But they won't, because they bought and paid for very expensive politicians who will do their bidding.
Approve. Hazardous airborne emissions from Racine County will generally head east towards Michigan and Indiana. If they want to get out from under that pollution they can move to Wisconsin and work for Foxconn!
Why do they get special treatment
there must another way
A collaborative exercise called "Dark Sky" will take place in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks to test the state's readiness in the event of a long-term power outage. Good idea or bad idea?
It will impact the state of Wisconsin though industry and travel
What will this reveal that foresight by power companies haven't forecast?
Why does our power grid have to be so vulnerable?
Finally see if the system works
We had our local small town transformer go out at like 11am one day. The entire city shut down. Our store stayed open until about 3pm, because we managed to do most of our business without power. Thank God for solar calculators.... But many businesses couldn't run without the power. Restaurants, grocery stores, fuel stations... all down. I think it's good to help do a drill now and then to help prepare for this kind of thing, and it's a good way to help sharpen all those involved. It also shows the public that the government and utilities are capable and ready in case of a problem. Good deal.
always need to stay ready
Wait, during this dark sky thing, can I still go to Arby's and get beef n cheddars? If not, this stinks.
No, not my community. Perhaps they should hold a collaborative exercise aimed at lowering rates.
The Omro part sounds kind of intrusive
All Wisconsin schools must have secured entrances to their premises by the beginning of the school year in the fall. Some past readers have commented that the new program is a waste of time. What are your thoughts; Good idea or bad idea?
A feeble attempt at "Helping" fund an unfunded mandate.
We already have a secure doors, Secretarys let everyone, in whats the purpose
How many of the schools that have had shootings recently already had secure entrances? I don't think this measure will be any more effective than putting a "No Guns Allowed" sign out front. The sign is cheaper though!!
If just anybody can walk into a school,we could get all kinds of weirdos walking in at will.
Are they implementing this for accredited private, parochial schools too?
All school need secure entrances.
We already have these for the last two years.
Knee jerk reaction. Need to put more efforts in on the home front. These kids need to be taught more and spend more time with their parents at home, and less time at school or with tablets/smart phones.
don't most have secured entrances already?
yes. Schools need to practice live-shooter drills and quit thinking it'll never happen to us. Not a slide program but real active-shooter drills!
Stuff like this is security theater. Waste of money. Sandy Hook shooter was buzzed in.
Waste of time and money. I pity the teacher who must sit through hours of crisis training.
Is it really going to stop someone who wants to get in? And why don't all schools already have secured entrances?
Two former UW-Oshkosh officials have been each charged with five felony counts for their role in funneling unauthorized taxpayer dollars into projects. After reading the article: What do you think?
Come on! People need to be responsible for their behavior.
Get your fingers out of my cookie jar. If they violated public trust and broke the law they should be punished.
As long as they were not putting money into their pockets,I don't think they should be charged with felonies.
People need to be held responsible for mismanagement of funds.
About time, these people have no concern for the taxpayers but for their own benefit
I used to work for the public schools. I saw the wasted money then, and still see the trend now. Let's not go into secret ways to get sports fields built... I've also met people who say their job is to get more money out of those going to college and force their degrees to take LONGER to obtain, and cost more. I think the UW system needs to flush out all it's administration and replace it, and start making it a lean, mean, cost effective machine.
make them pay back the money - may be more effective than just prison time
The law is the law!
Those boys were paid very well to be trusted to do a good job. Failure is this crooked manner must have consequences.
Anybody who inappropriately messes with taxdollars should be charged with as much as possible. Some of us are out here working for a living.
On this day in 1939, the World's Fair opened in New York City. With the weather looking a little warmer and pleasant these days, which local, county, or state fairs are you looking forward to attending throughout the summer? If none, are there outdoor community activities that you and your families take part in? Share any thoughts or suggestions you have here!
I support our local community fair(s). They provide opportunities for our youth to be involved in educational projects.
Don't go out much anymore..
Our county fair and State Fair.
Love looking for community, church, activities in our county and abroad in WI to participate in as able. WIll go to Co. fair for sure, and others. Mostly church activites for community.
We participate in the Dodge County Fair.
None, I can't walk,
Rock county, Walworth County and State Fair
camp fires, motorcycling
Love going to the FDL County Fair and Walleye Weekend!
Travel Wisconsin, fish and camp
We like to attend thresherees and antique tractor shows, but that's not always fair.
Looking forward to the cream puff at the State Fair. It's worth fighting through the traffic and crowd to see the best of the state's animals on display and meet some friendly folks.