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2nd Quarter 2015
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By Ag Member Rep
I recently had the privilege of attending the 2014 Farm Technology Days representing WPT (Wisconsin Property Taxpayers) and it was enlightening in many arenas. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Mike Marsch (President of WPT) and Bert Vosters (Sales Manager of WPT Agriculture) and they gave me a greater insight into the importance and value of what we do. This alone was a valuable learning experience. We had many people stop by our booth and they offered up their opinions. While the vast majorities believed in the principals that we believe in, there were a few that disagreed. Just another example of what a democracy is and the importance of freedom of speech. Many of the people that stopped by were already members of WPT, and many that weren’t expressed an interest in becoming supporters.
We handed out many Wisconsin Badger and Green Bay Packer schedules. It was surprising to me that so many people were looking for them and we were the first ones they found.
Overall, I think the event was a huge success. Attendance for the 2014 Farm Technology Days was reported to be just under 60,000 and from what I experienced, everyone enjoyed the event.
It’s great to be a part of an organization that is so positively accepted by it’s members.
WPT Ag Report
AG News Archives and previous news articles that matter to our members.
Joint Committee on Finance: Executive session meeting notes, April 17
The Joint Committee on Finance will meet in Executive Session on the 2015-17 biennial budget on Friday, April 17 at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held in Room 412 East, State Capitol. The Executive Session will be held on the budgets of the following agencies:
Wisconsin Technical College
Department of Military Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of the Commissioner
Board on Aging and Long-Term
Board for People with
Department of Health Services
-- Medical Assistance -- Administration
Johnson to Host Tax Day Telephone Town Hall
Washington – Sen. Ron Johnson will host a one-hour telephone town hall on Wednesday, April 15 beginning at 6:45 p.m. CT. This is the senator’s 39th telephone town hall during which he speaks directly with constituents to answer their questions. This telephone town hall will specifically focus on the difficulties constituents face trying to navigate America’s current tax system, but questions on any topic are welcome. See below for details on this week’s call.
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 6:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. CT
Note: Sen. Johnson will talk with as many callers as he has time to answer. All callers may listen to as much of the telephone town hall as they wish.
How constituents can participate:
- To sign up – please visit Sen. Johnson’s website here.
- Once you sign up, Sen. Johnson will give you a call starting at 6:45 p.m. CT on Wednesday evening.
DOR Guides for Property Taxpayers
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Taxes By County
You can choose any county from our list of Wisconsin counties for detailed information on that county's property tax, and the contact information for the county tax assessor's office.
What our members say
Thank you for taking time time to introduce yourself and your organization to Jason and Me.
I look forward to working with WPT, Inc. in the future.
Happy New Year!
Property Tax Bill Estimates Under January 2014 Special Session Proposal Read Here
2013-15 and 2015-17 General Fund Budget Under January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
Distributional Information on Proposed Individual Income Tax Rate Reduction Read Here
Wisconsin Alternative Minimum Tax and January 2014 Special Session Bills Read Here
Official Web sites of various state offices and agencies
Wisconsin in U.S. Congress
Senate: Ron Johnson
Senate: Tammy Baldwin
District 1: Paul Ryan
District 2: Mark Pocan
District 3: Ron Kind
District 4: Gwen Moore
District 5: Jim Sensenbrenner
District 6: Glenn Grothman
District 7: Sean Duffy
District 8: Reid Ribble
Governor, Executive Branch
*an interactive almanac
of U.S. politics
Who We Are
and What We Do
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. (WPT)
is the voice of Wisconsin’s property taxpayers in the State Capitol, working to reduce the statewide property tax burden and reform Wisconsin’s antiquated and regressive property tax system.
Founded in 1985, WPT represents the interests of thousands of commercial, agricultural and residential property taxpayers throughout the state who volunteer their financial support and personal commitment to the organization and its objectives.
WPT is the only statewide taxpayers’ organization registered with the Ethics Division of the State’s Government Accountability Board to lobby exclusively for property tax relief and reform.
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WPT’s experienced government relations specialists, field representatives and technical support staff conduct a variety of activities including legislative analysis, policy and opinion research, media relations, public information and legislative liaison service, to increase public and legislative support for the organization’s public policy objectives.
WPT regularly communicates with members through personal contact, newsletters, member surveys, policy briefs and legislative action alerts.
WPT assists members in dealing with local property tax issues and answers members’ questions related to assessments, property tax exemptions, state laws and administrative rules, and provides information useful in appealing and reducing their property tax liability.
For more information about who we are, what we do, and what we have helped to accomplish over the years, go here
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2015 1st Quarter
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Independence day celebration at Governor Walker's residence on Lake Mendota.
WPT is the voice of Wisconsin’s Property Taxpayers, your voice, in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Whether you have a comment, a thought to share, a question about your assessment or property tax bill, how your property tax dollars are spent, what’s going on in the Legislature, or any of a thousand property tax related questions we answer for our members, WPT wants to hear from you.
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The Governor’s 2015-17 Budget
Sen. Steve Nass: UW Regents "A Bunch of Yes People," Out of Touch With Middle Class
Published: 4:51 PM April 10, 2015
Sen. Steve Nass told Charlie Sykes that the UW regents are hiking tuition on out-of-state students simply because they can.
"This is excessive, clearly excessive," said Nass of the tuition hikes that would total a 35% increase for out-of-state students. "We have a lot of regents who are simply out of touch with the middle class."
Nass said that the tuition hikes for out-of-state students that will only lead to hikes for in-state students down the road. He proposed yanking the proposal to give the UW system autonomy, cuts to spending, the merging and closing of campuses, eliminate administative bloat, and requiring professors to teach more hours.
Senate leaders talk education, Bucks arena on 'UpFront'
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he expects any bumps in projected state revenues for the upcoming budget will help boost K-12 education.
The Juneau Republican told "UpFront with Mike Gousha" legislators are committed to fully funding K-12 schools in the first year of the budget and predicted improved revenue would allow for an increase in the second year.
But the Senate's Democratic leader, Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, argued for funding public schools over a Gov. Scott Walker's proposed expansion to the state's voucher program. Shilling said a majority of Wisconsin students attend public schools.
"We need to make sure that we have strong schools regardless if you live in a small school district, an urban school district, or a suburban school district," Shilling said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
The legislative leaders further disagreed on the effects of a proposed $300 million cut to the UW System, which Shilling said has already "impacted the excellence of our system," pointing to buyouts announced at five UW campuses since the budget's debut.
Fitzgerald said the dynamics of the discussion over funding higher education are influenced by recent proposals to increase tuition for graduate and out-of-state students. He said a surplus at some of the system campuses in the last biennium reduces the "sense of urgency" to increase funding for the university compared to transportation or K-12 education.
"The chancellors around the state are dealing individually with what they think the impact will be," Fitzgerald said. "I think there is an overall commitment to excellence, and I think that will stay in place."
Both legislators expressed support for state funding of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Shilling said the new facility and ancillary development could provide new job opportunities and said state Democrats want to ensure the economic impact helps minority and veteran owned businesses.
"It's really an exciting time," Shilling said. "We want to make sure we are protecting the taxpayer, but we also know what this means for the city, the region and the state."
Fitzgerald said a $150 million loan from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands would be preferable to state bonding, as interest from the loan could fund schools. He expressed confidence state lawmakers will reach an agreement with the team's owners, the city of Milwaukee, and other stakeholders.
"I don't know exactly what the final formula is going to look like, but we want all parties involved," Fitzgerald said. "I think that commitment is going to help us sell this in the legislature."
Also on the program was Peter Feigin, president of the Milwaukee Bucks, who said the team was "overwhelmed with positive reactions" to new arena plans unveiled last week. He said the plans demonstrate the catalytic potential of the facility on Milwaukee's downtown, which he described as a necessary component in building public support.
"This is a public-private partnership that needs to be in the state budget," Feigin said. "The state budget needs to be packaged up and approved ... by June 30, and we think all the pieces have to be put together before that."
Expressing confidence in the likelihood of reaching a funding deal with the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the state, Feigin called the proposed $250 million in public funding "doable." He said the team will work with the city and county if state funding falls short.
Feigin said the architects of the new arena are "cautiously optimistic" it will open in the fall of 2017. He said proposed site for the facility, vacant land adjacent to the existing Bradley Center, was chosen for its ease of development and centralized location.
"If you look at the plan, there's a lot of connective tissue that literally goes right to the water, goes to the north, goes to the west and goes to the east," Feigin said. "We are really pleased with the footprint."
Farm Bureau voices concerns in Washington
April 09, 2015 1:00 am • Lynn Grooms email@example.com, 608-437-2827
Members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation joined nearly 500 Farm Bureau members from across the country recently to visit their elected officials in Washington, D.C. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation was represented by Jim Holte, president, and Richard Gorder, vice president. Joining them were Don Radtke, director from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s District 8, and Farm Bureau member Jillian Beaty of Rock County.
The Wisconsin delegation visited with members of Congress following the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy Conference held Feb. 25. The group presented Friend of Farm Bureau plaques to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Congressmen Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble and Paul Ryan, for favorable voting records on agriculture-related legislation.
Holte said among the issues discussed was legislation that has been recently introduced — a proposal to remove the authority of the court system to overturn rulings related to listing or de-listing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming and in the western Great Lakes area of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
Holte explained that in 2011, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service had removed the gray wolf in these states from the Endangered Species List because the wolf population had increased to well over the service’s recovery goals. Environmentalists and other individuals, however, have filed court challenges that resulted in judges granting injunctions and re-listing the gray wolf, Holte said.
The Wisconsin DNR has estimated that in Wisconsin alone, the gray wolf population has increased to more than 800 in the past two years, Holte said. The initial recovery goal was 80 wolves; the current wolf-management plan from the DNR establishes a state population goal of 350 animals. Three wolf hunts that the DNR established over the past three winters have helped the agency to gradually reduce the population to align more closely to the state management goal, Holte added.
“There is no way that Wisconsin residents, especially farmers, can manage the amount of damage done by wolves to beef, sheep and pets,” Holte said. “Farmers should have the ability to protect their livestock in the act of a wolf depredation. Currently, they do not have that ability.”
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and its fellow Farm Bureaus in Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming actively support the legislation. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI 8th District) is the author of bill H.R. 884, which has bi-partisan support.
“Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is actively drafting a similar bill for the Senate,” Holte said.
The group from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation also voiced its support for giving Trade Promotion Authority to the president of the United States. Congress enacted Trade Promotion Authority legislation in 1974, but it has been allowed to lapse in recent years. Trade Promotion Authority was designed to help facilitate trade-negotiating objectives and priorities. It gives the president, regardless of party affiliation, the ability to pursue trade agreements that support American jobs and eliminate trade barriers. At the end of the negotiation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment.
Without this authority, trade agreements could be held up for long periods of time in Congress. Trade agreements also tend to be more partisan in nature, Holte said.
“Without the Trade Promotion Authority, any trade opportunity could be held up for debate by elected officials in Washington,” Holte said.
Countries in trade negotiations with the United States are more likely to engage if they are assured a decision could be made within a reasonable amount of time, he said.
“Trade is a very basic building block of our state economy,” Holte added.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the value of Wisconsin exports for all commodities totaled $23 billion in 2014.
The group from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation also voiced its concern over a European Union initiative that would not allow companies outside Europe to use food-product names that are “geographical indicators.” This relates to products whose names, now commonly used, originated in certain areas of Europe. A few of the many examples would include asiago or feta cheese, Black Forest ham or bologna, and Octoberfest beer.
“There has been an opportunity to market products using these names for a long time,” Holte said. “Cheesemakers are especially concerned about how proposed geographical indicators could affect their industry.”
Immigration continues to be a contentious issue on Capitol Hill, and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau shared its perspective.
“E-Verify is being debated and seems logical,” Holte said. “But we are concerned about it being put in place without viewpoints from agriculture, especially the dairy industry.”
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Holte said he is concerned about any guest-worker program that would require foreign citizens to annually return to their country for a certain period of time before returning to the United States to work.
“This would not work in the dairy industry, for example, where cows need to be fed and milked every day,” Holte said. “We encourage Congress to secure the borders, but also to have an appropriate guest-worker program. Wisconsin farmers want a logical, reliable and legal method of hiring employees. The representatives we met with understand our needs, and specifically the unique needs of Wisconsin’s dairy industry. There is just a feeling of frustration that Congress can’t make progress.”
Finally, Wisconsin Farm Bureau representatives talked to elected officials and their staffs about how implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill is faring. The process of moving from direct payments to risk-management programs is underway. It takes time for an agency like the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make its way through all the new rules and challenges, Holte said.
“In general, though, the new farm bill is a positive story,” he added.
WFU focuses on budget's rural items
By Ray Mueller
April 6, 2015 | 0 comments
As Wisconsin's legislature, starting with its joint finance committee, begins to consider a state budget for the 2015-2017 biennium, many organizations and interest groups are weighing in with wishes and opinions.
Among them is the Wisconsin Farmers Union, which has a Madison-based staff of three trying to have an influence on the legislature. Policy organizer David Wright-Racette, who is most junior of the three, reviewed some of the proposed budget details that are of most interest to the WFU in a presentation to 35 members and guests at a spring tour gathering at LaClare Farms in northeast Fond du Lac County.
While the recent round of four public hearings held by the JFC produced a great majority of negative comments about the budget and related policies proposed by Gov. Scott Walker's administration, Wright-Racette pointed out that the proposed budget has several items the WFU considers to be favorable.
Rural school funding
For rural school districts, Walker's proposed budget contains biennium increases of $8.4 million for the sparsity factor (density of the student population within the district), $5 million for transportation aid and $25 for each student who lives more than 12 miles from the school. But the overall proposed cut of $98 million for schools converts to an average of $135 less per student, Wright-Racette added.
The proposed $300 million cut for the University of Wisconsin system would mean $12 million less over the biennium for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the Madison campus and a $4 million reduction for the Extension Service, he said. If sustained, those cuts would preclude new hires for vacant positions specializing in dairy nutrition, soil science and vegetable and potato crop research.
Other proposed cuts that the WFU opposes are $500,000 to the state's funding of Nutrient Management Plans and $1.6 million in county level staffing for resource conservation programs. On the upside, he cited a new proposed appropriation of $500,000 for a farmer-led watershed initiative and an additional $6 million for installing high-speed broadband Internet service.
On a nonfiscal issue in the proposed budget, Wright-Racette noted that the WFU has lots of company in opposing the conversion of the citizens governing boards of the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and Department of Natural Resources to advisory bodies.
The WFU urges the preservation of local control on agreements with frac sand mining companies, along with legislation that would consider the cumulative area effect of high-capacity wells; require a periodic review of permits and withdrawals on those wells; permit repairs of existing wells; and allow transfer to permits with land sales, he added.
To a question about Wisconsin's new Implements of Husbandry regulations for roadway travel, Wright-Racette disclosed that the WFU left the Farm Bureau and Wisconsin Towns Association to carry most of the load in reaching a compromise agreement. Monthly meetings are held with representatives of the Farm Bureau and such groups as the cranberry and potato growers to find items on which they agree.
Wright-Racette, who served as an intern at the office of former northern Wisconsin state senator Bob Jauch, observed that the legislature faces a tricky route on how to obtain greater funding to maintain the state's roadways. The revenue-increasing proposal on that point by Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb has not received a friendly greeting.
On national issues, Wright-Racette pointed out that the National Farmers Union continues to support Country of Origin Labeling for imported beef, pork and lamb meat and calls for a slowing of the new trade pact agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Pact.
WFU, which was founded 84 years ago, has enjoyed a resurgence in membership during the past three years, according to membership director Deb Jakubek. Membership tops 2,000 after having fallen to nearly 900 across the state, and she credited a portion of that increase to an affiliation with Hastings Mutual Insurance.
Jakubek praised the WFU's board of directors for its decisions on investments in auxiliary enterprises, which are boosting the organization's income. She also noted that WFU is involved with the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, which is in its third year of operation.
H5N2 confirmed in Wisconsin flock
Posted April 13, 2015 by Bob Meyer
H5N2 avian influenza has been confirmed in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says a flock of more than 180,000 laying hens at a commercial laying facility in Jefferson County in southeastern Wisconsin has the virus.
State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw says they are following strict protocols to contain and eliminate the disease. The facility was immediately quarantined and neighboring properties with poultry have been notified. The remaining chickens in the affected flock will be depopulated and will not enter the food supply.
McGraw is recommending that all poultry owners take precautions to minimize the risk to their poultry.
Suggested preventative measures include:
Keep your distance—Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
Keep it clean—Wash your hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds. Clean and disinfect equipment.
Don’t haul disease home—Buy birds from reputable sources and keep new birds separated for at least 30 days.
Don’t borrow disease—do not share equipment or supplies with neighbors or other bird owners. If you must borrow, disinfect it first.
Know the warning signs—early detection can help prevent the spread of the disease. Check your birds frequently. If you find a sick or dead bird, don’t touch it.
Report sick birds—don’t wait. If your birds are sick or dying, call DATCP at 1-800-572-8981.
As a precaution, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is reaching out to monitor workers who may have been exposed to the virus. DATCP has also been working with the USDA.
Neighboring Minnesota now has 14 commercial turkey flocks with confirmed H5N2.
Capitol Report 2015
2nd Quarter | April
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Our own Ag Member Representative Donovan Dolph - July 4th, 2014
How Property Taxes Work
August 1, 2011 04:18 PM ITEP
The property tax is the oldest major revenue source for state and local governments. At the beginning of the twentieth century, property taxes represented more than eighty percent of state and local tax revenue. While this share has diminished over time as states have introduced sales and income taxes, the property tax remains an important mechanism for funding education and other local services. This policy brief discusses why property is taxed and how property taxes are calculated.
Why Tax Property?
The property tax is rooted largely in the “benefits principle” of taxation. Under this view, the property tax essentially functions as a user-charge on local residents for the benefits they receive from the local policies funded by property taxes. These policies benefit local residents directly in the form of better schools and fire protection, and indirectly in the form of increased housing values.
The property tax also helps differentiate between families of very different means by taxing families with large quantities of wealth more heavily than those without such reserves. But the impact that property taxes can have on low-income families, and particularly the elderly, makes clear that the linkage of the property tax to the ability-to-pay principle is far from perfect.
Finally, the stability and enforceability of the property tax make it among the best options available for providing local governments with a predictable revenue stream that can be used to fund indispensable services like schools, roads, and public safety.
How Property Taxes Work
Historically, property taxes applied to two kinds of property: real property, which includes land and buildings, and personal property,
such as cars, boats,
and the value of
stocks and bonds.
Most states have
moved away from
property and now
primarily on real
In its simplest form, the real property tax is calculated by multiplying the value of land and buildings by the tax rate. Property tax rates are normally expressed in mills. A mill is one-tenth of one percent. In the most basic system, an owner of a property worth $100,000 that is subject to a 25 mill (that is, 2.5 percent) tax rate would pay $2,500 in property taxes. In reality, however, property taxes are often more complicated than this. The first step in the property tax process is determining a property’s value for tax purposes. In most cases, this means estimating the property’s market value, the amount the property would likely sell for.
The second step is determining the property’s assessed value, its value for tax purposes. This is done by multiplying the property’s market value by an assessment ratio, which is a percentage ranging from zero to one hundred. Many states base their taxes upon actual market value—in other words, these states use a 100 percent assessment ratio. A significant number of states, however, assess property at only a fraction of its actual value. New Mexico assesses homes at 33.3 percent of their market value, and Arkansas uses a 20 percent assessment ratio. Some states place a cap on increases in a home’s assessed value in any given year, which in many cases can lead to vastly different assessment ratios among similarly valued homes (For more detail, see ITEP Brief, “Capping Assessed Valuation Growth: A Primer”). And even when the law says properties should be assessed at 100 percent of their value, local assessors at times systematically under-assess property, reporting assessed values that are substantially less than the real market value of the property.
After the assessment ratio has been factored in, many states reduce a property’s assessed value further by allowing exemptions. The most common type of exemption is referred to as a “homestead exemption.” In Ohio, for example, the state allows an exemption for the first $25,000 of home value. Subtracting all exemptions yields the taxable value of a property. (For more on homestead exemptions, see ITEP Brief, “Property Tax Homestead Exemptions”).
The next step in the process is applying a property tax rate, also known as a millage rate, to the property’s taxable value. The millage rate is usually the sum of several tax rates applied by several different jurisdictions: for example, one property might be subject to a municipal tax, a county tax, and a school district tax. This calculation yields the tentative property tax before credits.
Many states allow property tax credits that either directly reduce the property tax bill, or that reimburse part of the property tax bill separately when taxpayers apply for them. Subtracting these credits is the final step in calculating one’s property tax bill—though taxpayers are often required to pay the pre-credit property tax amount, only to later have the amount of the credit refunded to them. (For more detail on one type of property tax credit, see ITEP brief, “Property Tax Circuit Breakers”).
Other Property Tax Issues
While property taxes on owner-occupied homes tend to receive the most attention, the presence (or absence) of tax on other forms of property also has important implications.
Businesses pay property taxes just like local residents. Property taxes on businesses are mostly borne by business owners. Business property taxes generally make the property tax less regressive, since business owners tend to be wealthier than average.
Property taxes also impact taxpayers who rent, rather than own their home. This is because owners of rental real estate pass through some of their tax liability to renters in the form of higher rents. The impact of property taxes on renters is of particular concern because renters tend to be significantly less well-off than their homeowner neighbors.
Non-profit entities are generally exempt from state and local property taxes. While these exemptions can make it easier for these organizations to pursue their missions, it can mean that local governments have difficulty raising the revenue needed to provide quality public services. This issue is most significant in areas with large non-profit hospitals and/or universities. PDF
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News updates April 13, 2015