Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.
This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, an all new Weekly Member Poll, and another Property Taxpayer of the Week!
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,
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
WPT NAMES THREE LAWMAKERS 2018 'PROPERTY TAXPAYER CHAMPIONS'
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. last week awarded three state lawmakers with the 2018 Property Taxpayer Champion award for their work in the legislative session on key issues regarding property taxes, and small business and rural issues.
Those lawmakers were Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Representative Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond), and Representative Don Vruwink (D-Milton).
Rep. Kooyenga was chosen because of his leadership as the Vice Chair of the Joint Finance Committee. His work led directly to the elimination of the state-levied property tax, and the elimination of Schedule C on the personal property tax.
Rep. Stafsholt was chosen because of his work in defending property rights, as well as expanding the state's hunting mentorship program, and the bills he authored on alleviating student debt in rural areas for those enrolled in apprenticeship programs.
Rep. Vruwink was selected due to his work on the Assembly Committees on Agriculture, and Rural Development, as well as his appointment to the governor's Dairy Task Force 2.0. He also authored legislation that would target property tax relief specifically to Wisconsin residents, offer property tax relief to elderly low-income residents, and provide an income tax credit to small businesses equal to the amount they pay in personal property tax.
DWD: UNEMPLOYMENT RATES DECLINE OR HOLD STEADY IN ALL 12 WISCONSIN METRO AREAS
The state's Department of Workforce Development (DWD) last week announced the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include updates to August 2018 and preliminary estimates for September 2018.
In metro statistical areas, September 2018 unemployment rates declined in all 12 of Wisconsin's metro areas over the year from September 2017 to September 2018. This marks the 59th consecutive month in which unemployment rates in the 12 Wisconsin Metro Statistical Areas have dropped or remained unchanged when compared over the year. La Crosse-Onalaska registered its record low unemployment rate for any month at 2.0 percent. The Janesville-Beloit area tied its record low unemployment rate for any month at 2.8 percent.
For municipalities, the September 2018 numbers showed that rates declined or stayed the same in all 32 of Wisconsin's largest cities over the year from September 2017. The largest declines were in Greenfield and Manitowoc, which dropped 0.7 percent, and Superior, Sheboygan, Beloit, and Racine, which dropped 0.6 percent.
As for counties, estimates showed that unemployment rates declined over the year from September 2017 in 71 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, with 23 counties tying their all-time record low unemployment rate for any month.
DNR TO ALLOW THREE HIGH CAPACITY WELLS RULED A DANGER TO TROUT STREAMS
Last year, a Wisconsin judge ruled that multiple permits were invalidated because the large amount of water drawn from the well could put at risk three "high-quality" trout streams. The streams are the Fourmile Creek, Buena Vista Creek, and the Stolenburg Creek.
But today, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has approved the new high-capacity well and will allow for the project to move forward, despite the earlier ruling by the judge. According to the State Journal, "They have said they aren't persuaded by scientific studies showing that heavy withdrawals from the underground aquifer have been drying up lakes, streams and other wells."
In response, a DNR spokesman said that the wells were approved under a 2016 policy that happened as a result of Attorney General Brad Schimel's opinion that the DNR had overstepped its authority.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS REQUESTING $1.4 BILLION THROUGH REFERENDA
Eighty-two questions will appear on ballots in 61 school districts across the state, asking for revenue limit increases and issuance of new debt, totaling $1.4 billion, which would be the highest in state history.
Of those 61 districts, 44 are asking for new debt issuance equal to $1.25 billion, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, with twenty-four school districts asking to exceed only temporarily the state-imposed revenue limits, which will cost $157 million. Fourteen districts are asking for permanent exemptions from the limits, totaling more than $26 million.
The last state budget saw historic total dollars invested into the classrooms, with a near-$650 million boost to aids.
I-41 SPEED LIMITS WILL NOT BE REDUCED
Lowering the speed limit from 70 to 55 miles-per-hour for a stretch of interstate in the Fox Valley will not take place, according to the state's Department of Transportation (DOT).
Last week, however, the Outagamie County Board voted on a resolution that requested the DOT investigate the region and recommend fixes to make the stretch safer for travelers. According to Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, in the past few years, local law enforcement had 5,000 calls for response in that area alone. The board is requesting that the specific area studied is between County BB in Grand Chute and County J in Kaukauna.
Earlier this year, Governor Scott Walker directed the state's transportation department to study the expansion of the interstate between Appleton and De Pere, though the project is estimated to take more than ten years to replace.
'COMMUTE TO CAREERS' EXPANDED
Governor Scott Walker on Friday announced that 29 grants, totaling more than $5.1 million, have been awarded under the Commute to Careers program. That program is a multi-agency initiative to eliminate transportation barriers for workers seeking to advance their careers or enter the workforce. The program is funded by the state's Department of Workforce Development and Department of Transportation.
The main goal of the Commute to Careers program is to expand the pool of labor talent by connecting workers with affordable transportation to and from work or training programs. DWD and DOT will be requesting an additional $8 million in funding in the 2019-21 biennial budget to continue the program. Over time, it is expected that private dollars will replace public dollars in order to establish a long-term network of transportation options that will enable rural and urban workers to reach jobs.
"These grants will give thousands of Wisconsin workers improved access to meaningful jobs or training opportunities that they need to enter the workforce," Governor Walker said. "Given Wisconsin's historically low unemployment rate, it is important that we eliminate these barriers to ensure that no workers are left on the sidelines."
SECOND ROUND OF SCHOOL SAFETY GRANTS AWARDED
During an event for adolescent mental health training in Madison last week, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that the state's Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS) has finished its grant awards for the second round of school safety grant funding. The OSS will held over 500 trainings with law enforcement officers and educators across the state last week.
About $94 million in grants have been awarded to schools under the new Office of School Safety, which was signed into law in March of this year.
The remaining $6 million will fund seven more schools in round two that either withdrew or did not initially apply to the program. It will also pay the tuition for 10% of teachers to attend the adolescent mental health trainings, and create a mobile phone app for reporting threats. Additionally, the money will be used to create an emergency response fund for schools.
DOUGLAS COUNTY JOINS PUSH TO UPGRADE 911 SYSTEMS
Douglas County became the latest local government to join in a statewide push to urge Governor Walker and the legislature to fund upgrading 911 emergency systems in the digital era.
The groups like like the state to use funds that are charged to consumers known as the police and fire protection fee. According to the Department of Revenue (DOR), that fee is levied on each voice communication connection with an assigned number. That includes cell phones, landlines, and other communications services that use a voice-over-internet connection (VoIP).
The Douglas County Board would like the state to send $7 million in grants from the police and fire protection fee to local governments each year to upgrade and modernize 911 equipment. Some counties were due for upgrades this year, which cost on average about $300,000. Douglas County has not received state aid for upgrades in nearly a decade.
In March, the state's plans were unveiled to upgrade to what they're dubbing the "NextGen 911" system, which would allow for individuals to text or send photos to 911 in an emergency. One official said that 51 percent of homes don't have landlines, so most 911 calls are made by cell phone. Using this new technology would allow for first responders to "ping" the certain tower nearest the caller.
The 2017-2019 state budget included $6.7 million for planning the NextGen 911 upgrade.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Wheel taxes continue to be on the rise in Wisconsin, with the City of Manitowoc and Portage County implementing the tax soon. Does your community have a wheel tax?
Milwaukee County has a wheel tax. Their ability to fund programs mandated by the state is hamstrung by levy limits, so they need to raise funds by wheel taxes. Let the locals decide how much money they want to raise, not idiots in Madison.
Not yet. The Mayor is pushing for one.
A wheel tax is a tax upon a tax. VOTE NO! This is one of the least American and Constitutional things we could allow to occur!
not yet, but I'm sure we will soon. Green Lake county would never miss out on a tax opportunity!
We currently do not have a wheel tax but monkey see monkey do just keep the bleeding going
President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama will both be visiting Wisconsin this week. Do you think having "big" political figures visit the sate is effective in driving higher turnout or swinging an election?
are state and nation are vaery polarized. People vote the party line not for the man or woman but the one with the slickest ads on the television
Doesn't excite me about Trump or Obama coming to WI. I think they should stay home. I know who Im voting for and Know those person are good ones.
People who attend rallies are politically motivated folk already. Zero of them were going to NOT vote for the candidate they went to see.
It excites supporters and hopefully encourages more people to get out and vote
Bunch of touble-talk.
The people of Wisconsin are free thinkers.
The left hates Trump and adores Obama no matter how much he screwed up race relations, and degraded our position around the world. So nobody is going to change their mind with either coming.
Obama and Bernie Sanders are a turn off
I don't think it changes anything. However, if one of the candidates could bring Reagan in to tell a few jokes, I'd have to cast my vote for him.
The big name political figures have already estabilished a opinion or following so do they swing the undecided? They really raise havoc with people trying to work by traffic jams and spending millions of tax payer money on security
Probably not that big of a difference.
Governor Walker says we "need a break" from "massive new interchanges in Milwaukee." He says "we're just not going to do them for a while."
do these projects need doing - probably yes - why not have Milwaukee county and city put some skin in the game.
To much money being spent on interchanges, we have other roads that need upgrading. Im for Walker.
Hey, you know who should make decisions like these? Traffic engineers, not politicians. If a road or bridge is insufficient or in need of repair, it should be worked on regardless of what politicians say.
Probably need to spend transportation dollars on existing roads that are crumbling
Milwaukee always needs something.
Way too much goes into the cities, time us "forgotten" people had some money spent on the roads we have to drive on
Have YOU drive into Milwaukee on interstate from Oconomowoc/Dousman area? (
Once per week, at least. -JJ)
I went through Milwaukee this summer, seems like there is a lot of road work being done in some special areas and the rest is left to fall apart. Looks like a lot of the money spent is just for show, spread it out then maybe the projects will all be done.
Use those funds for other parts of the state that need it.
I think other parts of the State need repairs or replacement
A plan needs to disperse funds with most important need and population areas
It's ridiculous to rebuild the Marquette and then all of this time on the Zoo and then NOT do the area from 27th to 70th
Law enforcement officials are seeking 2,000 volunteers to assist with their search for missing Barron teen Jayme Closs. With statewide and national media devoting a lot of attention to this story, have you been following along?
This thing was planned out and was professional and I don't believe this girl will ever be found!
Yes and I think they have some good leads, hope they find Jayme Closs.
Seems to be a case either going cold very fast or the public isn't being told things so that the investigation is not compromised
More national attention needs to be focused on missing children and child traficing.
This is a horrible tragedy, and the people responsible need to be found and dealt with
Very sad. I hope they find her soon.
sad society still has such violence, wish the best, thank you to all law enforcement and Volunteers
Very sad. Wish I could drive up to help.
Halloween is next week, and thus time for trick-or-treat. Do you give out candy to kids? Does your area have trick-or-treating? Is it during the night or day? What was your favorite Halloween candy as a kid? Now? Do you have a costume that you remember wearing as a child? Share your Halloween stories and traditions here!
This year I won't be giving out candy to kids as I will be out of town. This will be the first time in many years. Best costume was going to my eight grade halloween party as a girl had the neighbor girls come over - had a wig that they did up. they did make upprovided a dress, heels. Walked right by my teacher and he did not know who I was - thought it was my freind's date!
We don't get anybody for Halloween, to rural area. I never did it when I was a kid,, as we lived in the country. Only when I was in school did we make Halloween items.
Unfortunately, our village does trick or treat during the daytime. How 99% of the rest of the United States does it at night time, I know not. I guess they don't love their children?
on our street we get around 300 kids every year. Love handing out candy to the ghosts and goblins
Our church does Trunk 'n' Treat. Great for our very rural area.
Not real big on halloween
I'm always prepared with a treat, but living in a rural area keeps children and families from visiting.
Too far out in the country - no kids come here.
yes our area is big into trick-or-treats
We live in a rual area dont get trick or treaters
quit giving out candy - too many kids are dropped in our neighborhood who don't live there. also don't like that parents pushing a stroller w/infant in it is asking for candy - really?
Our Chamber of Commerce sponsors an event.
Have not had 'visitors' in several years. .... yes our municipality has designated hours. ... Best costume was me a "plug" wife an "outlet"
I like Smarties. I hand out whatever is left at the grocery store on trick or treating night. It usually goes from 4-8pm. Favorite costume was a depressed clown.
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 values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.