Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2018


Welcome back to another edition of the WPT 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 of course, a new 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 info@wptonline.org.

Have a great week,

WPT, Inc.

The WPT Property Taxpayer of the Week takes us to Holmen, WI, where we introduce you to Mr. Jeff Conger, who along with his brother Clyde, owns Bernie's Equipment Co., Inc.

The company was founded by Jeff's father, Bernie Conger, in 1975. According to their website, in their first year in operation, the company received three separate orders from three large customers, purchased Interlake storage rack, Litton conveyors, and Market Innovators flow rack.

Then in 1977, Bernie's purchased their sales office building and hired their first employee. In 1988, they remodeled the offices and expanded their service department by 3300 square feet, and then expanded yet again in 1992 by purchasing adjacent land to build their first warehouse. It didn't stop there; a mere two years later, they doubled the size of the warehouse.

The company provides an array of material handling products and plant equipment, including sales, service and repairs on rack systems, conveyors, forklifts, aerial lifts, lift tables, sweepers, scrubbers, shelving, mezzanines, in-plant offices, storage cabinets, lockers, dock equipment, safety barriers, warehouse equipment, and "much more."

But despite their success, Jeff shared some of the challenges he faces with his company.

"Challenges that face our industry are hiring quality employees when needed, keeping insurance costs in reasonable limits and keeping up with government regulations," Jeff said. "I would say our biggest challenge with state government is staying on top of what we need to pay taxes on, from personal property taxes to sales taxes."

Jeff tells us that in addition to his customers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, his 21 full time and 2 part time employees are his biggest source of pride.

"It is fun to be able to work with so many good people," he said. "We are proud of the fact that we provide great customer satisfaction are we are also proud that we have a lot of longevity with many of our employees."

Jeff was born in Green Bay, and moved to La Crosse in middle school. He is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire, and is married and has "three wonderful yellow labs." In his free time, Jeff is an avid sportsman.

"My favorite hobby has to be hunting as I have hunted deer and small game in Wisconsin for 48 years. I also have done moose, elk, mule deer, pheasant, duck, grouse, and goose hunts in other states and Canada."

Jeff says he seems value in his membership with our organization.

"I see the value of WPT as keeping me informed on issues in legislation and more importantly standing up for us on many of the issues."

We are thankful for Jeff's commitment to our cause, his community, company, employees, and customers, and wish him much continued success and prosperity in the future.

To learn more about Bernie's Equipment Co., Inc. or to get in touch, visit their website at www.berniesequipment.com

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) last week released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for July 2018 along with preliminary estimates for August covering the employment and job statistics for the state.

According to a release by DWD, "Wisconsin added a statistically significant 36,300 private-sector jobs from August 2017 to August 2018, with 22,500 manufacturing jobs added over the same period of time."

The state also added 44,200 non-farm jobs from August 2017 to August 2018, according to DWD, with the total number of non-farm jobs hitting a record high of 2,987,700 in August, and manufacturing jobs hitting their highest level since September of 2008.

DWD Secretary Ray Allen said "Wisconsin job growth continues to be significant as defined by the United States Department of Labor, and our unemployment rate continues to hover near the record low of 2.8 percent set earlier this year. Wisconsin continues to add family-supporting employment opportunities in the state's robust manufacturing sector, adding 1,500 jobs in August, while the nation lost 3,000 manufacturing jobs. At DWD, we will continue to provide nationally recognized employment services to job seekers, helping them connect with one of the 90,000-plus jobs routinely available on the state's Job Center of Wisconsin website."

Along with employment numbers, the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics also released the state-by-state employment and unemployment rankings showing that Wisconsin's manufacturing industry continues to add jobs at a historic rate, making it 1st nationally in the number of manufacturing jobs added from June 2018 through August.

Additionally, the 12-month increase in manufacturing jobs through August 2018 outpaced 48 other states and was 1st in the Midwest. WIsconsin's addition of 1,500 manufacturing jobs in August ranked 3rd nationally, and 1st in the Midwest. The state also ranked 5th highest in labor force participation, at 68.8 percent, and had the 10th lowest unemployment rate at 3 percent.

Governor Walker last week announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment this week in 17 counties hit hard by flooding and tornadoes. FEMA officials will begin looking at flood-damaged homes and public infrastructure today, September 24th.

"The floods and tornadoes have devastated so many families and businesses across Wisconsin," Governor Walker said. "I look forward to having FEMA in our state next week to assess damages as we take the first step to request a federal disaster declaration."

FEMA teams will assess damage in homes in Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Jefferson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marquette, Monroe, Ozaukee, Richland, Sauk, and Vernon Counties. Local and county officials will escort the teams to view homes that were destroyed or sustained major damage. The teams do not go inside the home but rather will verify damage from the outside. Residents do not need to be home.

Local damage assessments from those counties finalized last week showed more than $108 million in damage to residences. 56 homes were destroyed, according to the Governor's Office statement, and 564 homes had major damage, and 4,000 with minor of affected damage. Also in the statement, 14 businesses were destroyed, 62 sustained major damage, and 96 reported minor damage with losses of nearly $49 million. There is also an estimated $75 million in damages to public infrastructure.

If successful in his bid for a third term as Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker said he is planning to provide tax relief in the next state budget for senior citizens and parents.
Under his plan, a new tax credit would be created for parents who pay for childcare, along with an increase of 50 percent in refundable tax credits for low-income seniors who are 62 and older. According to the Journal Sentinel and confirmed by WPT, that tax credit was cut in the most recent state budget.
The senior citizen credit would be tethered to inflation, and would cost about $134 million over the next state budget, and would be available to seniors making under $37,020 annually. According to the Governor's Office, an average senior in Wisconsin would see a near-$500 increase in their claim.  
With the new tax credit for parents, the state would aim to cover 20 to 35 percent of child care costs, all dependent on the income levels of the claimant, with the max credit being $3,000.  
One Wisconsin Senator, Steve Nass, is seeking to halt the hunting regulations developed by the Natural Resources Board and ordered by Governor Walker last month.

The rule would require that hunters do not transport deer from a CWD-confirmed county unless it's deboned before it leaves the county, quartered before it leaves the county, or taken to a meat process or taxidermist within 72 hours of leaving the county. The rule also required deer farmers to upgrade their fences.

Senator Nass is the head of the legislature's rule's committee, and has now scheduled a vote on October 1st which would suspend the rule- the same day the rule is to go into effect.

Some local distilleries and breweries are realizing some tax relief from a change in tax code under the Craft Beverage and Tax Reform Modernization Act of 2017.

The law cuts the excise tax levels on all alcoholic beverages. Some local distilleries are are reinvesting in their businesses, with one Milwaukee company, Great Lakes Distillery saving approximately $120,000 due to the tax decreasing, per bottle, from $2.14 to $0.42. The company's owner said he has tripled the amount of whiskey, added two full-time employees, and four part-time workers.

Unfortunately, the old tax rate returns at the end of 2019, leaving the work of national lobbying group Distilled Spirits Council to take the fight to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Reinstating the tax break might be tough, and the group said distilleries have slowed increases in hiring.

The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce last week asked for a delay on a vote that would provide Texas-based Kimberly-Clark with a Foxconn-like tax incentive package in exchange for shuttering only one of their Fox Cities plants instead of two.

The chamber would like to see the vote delayed until November 30th, "so newly elected officials can work together in a bipartisan manner to pass the bill," according to Fox 11 News.

One official close to the request said "sixty extra days to preserve a 146-year manufacturing relationship is a reasonable request."

Governor Walker last week called on the legislature to act in order to preserve the jobs, and to quickly approve the tax deal that was passed in the Assembly. Whether the deal has enough votes in the Senate to pass is uncertain, and might rely on support from Democrats, who do not support the measure.

Recently, WPT shared a story that local leaders in Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Appleton claimed the Wisconsin DOT shorted them millions of dollars the communities were relying on to fund local transportation infrastructure projects.

After an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in Madison, those cities were not short-changed any cash from the state, and should still be receiving those dollars under the federal grant program originally in question.

According to a DOT official, complaints from local governments were due, in large part, to a misunderstanding regarding a timeline change for funding. The cycle in which the funds were doled out was changed, and local communities were not made aware of the change.

In a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, an an analyst wrote, "while some local projects may not be funded in the timeframe that local officials had expected, DOT indicates [the] recipients should receive their total allocation."

In his official capacity as DPI Superintendent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers has requested a $1.7 billion increase in K-12 funding. After reading the article...   
It will not fly.

Evers is using his position to make school spending a campaign issue, which actually is a good thing. I think because of the way public education has developed under Evers leadership, education is experiencing a real hurt. Throwing more money at the problems, isn't going to help. Another reason why he will never get my vote.

Where will the funds come from

He's campaigning

He must think money grows on trees to cover his expensive idea

School funding is very important but because something is important doesn't always mean putting more money toward it.

Where will the money come from?

Who's going to pay for it?

Even still, I am seeing HUGE waste in the public schools. Our local school just did a major project, NOTHING was done locally, when we approached the Administrator he just brushed local businesses off, and the project was WAY over budget. I think we need to get our schools on track in other ways, and quit just raising taxes over and over. The system is broken, Evers is part of the reason it's broken, and it needs a radical overhaul. How do I know? I used to work for the public schools, and I saw where money was absolutely thrown away for egotistical reasons. Cut that waste out. FIX it, don't just pillage the state for your ambitions. Oh, and get district administrator and principal wages in line. Wow are they stupid high...

This man really concerns me, dont get me wrong education is very important, but seems to me that if he becomes governor he will put 100% of priority in education only!

After years as dpi super, only when running for governor does he need money for political promotions, sad very sad

They already spend money recklessly where not needed.

will make the teachers unions happy! You can throw tons of money at schools -it is always the solution of course,but when has it ever done any good? Tony Evers is a professional educrat

It will vastly raise property taxes!��

He's looking for Walker and the legislature reject it so he can use it in his campaign

Kimberly-Clark has requested the state pass an incentive package by September 30th in order to keep one of the two plants open. Now, Governor Walker is calling on the legislature to act. With a firm deadline set: Should they pass the package?
Is this company a "dead horse?"

Its a little late, Wisconsin should have fought to keep Kimberly-Clark's corporate headquarters in Wisconsin when Tony Earl was governor. Democrats never want to promote business in our state, just want more money for their pet projects

Let them go

corporate welfare

I do not see why we should bale them,but for the paper industry is needed but I would put rules on them to live up over the future years

every company should be financially solvent without government handouts. maybe they need to hire better strategists to watch trends so they don't get caught in these situations unprepared

Don't save a company that's failing.

Isn't this extortion? Just boycott all Kimberly-Clark products in WI.

I'm done. They don't deserve to be coddled. Part of why they're leaving Wisconsin is because wages and insurance are too high. Why don't we attack the rampant insurance cost issues in this state?

ENOUGH of the Corporate Welfare!

times are changing, industry demands are different, sink or swim but without taxpayer money

MORE Corporate Welfare

Where does the blackmail stop?

Don't understand long term impacts but we want to keep good jobs

The US Census Bureau says poverty was down and household incomes were up in 2017. Is this true for your household?  
The farm economy is having a terrible struggle now, but glad for my city friends whose incomes are up.

Had to give up subbing to care for husband.

Ag related

I own the business - I don't take more because of a statistic

Farm income down.


Glad both my wife and myself have full time jobs!

According to the Wisconsin DNR, with all of the rain, mosquitoes have made a huge late season resurgence in Wisconsin. Have you noticed this in your region?
Glad both my wife and myself have full time jobs!

I am always conscious of getting of mosquito breeding grounds around my property, but they are the worst I can ever remember. We do live near a large wetlands area which does not help at all!

what due you expect when you have all this flooding

Mother nature is in control.

Yes,but kind of hard on a farm with a lot of lowland

Stuff that doesn't have chemicals in that affect pets is non-existent?!

Keep our lawn mowed,, not much to stop them from breeding.

A union-backed group flew a banner over Lambeau Field with a caricature of Governor Walker, promoting a website called "scottholes.com." Although the group says they are remaining neutral in the Governor's race, do you think their tactic is effective or do you think it's tacky?
>10% = Effective, <90% = Tacky

Will anything wake up Walker to serious road conditions?

If any believes the group is neutral in the Governor's race, you are pretty gullible.

Very, Very Tacky. Acting like a 2 year old.... Give me a break....

first of all they are not neutral, second it was tacky but likely somewhat effective

again a union thing

Most things done in politics are tacky. The TV ads are worse. Often nonfactual and always sensationalized.

why not spend the money on fixing a pothole or two instead of flying a flag? what does that fix?

Cowards...hide behind a banner that clearly states your mission!

politics are out of control can hate groups get any lower if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem

Flying the flag says they are not neutral.

Why can't football just be for enjoying? Stop all the controversy or there won't be anyone watching.

Probably not that effective,but he failed us with the bad roads. Of course Evers will come up with a ton of taxes to ostensibly improve them. Democrats love taxes.

People there chuckled at it, no one took it seriously

Hope he notice them!!!

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.     
No bills to report.
No bills to report.