September 16, 2014

Walker wants more from Wisconsin assistance recipients



Governor Scott Walker wants more from recipients of unemployment assistance and food stamps. In a second term, Walker would require drug testing for those requesting unemployment assistance. At a stop in Wausau on Monday, Walker said that’s what employers want.

“They tell us they have basic, entry level jobs, where they’d be happy to hire people and train them themselves, except for two problems. They have people that have basic employability skills, and they have people that can’t pass drug tests,” Walker said.

Drug tests would also be required for able bodied adults requesting food stamps. And working-age childless adults receiving food stamps or unemployment benefits would have to participate in employment training or part-time work.

“Over the next two year budget cycle we actually believe it would save us money, because we believe there would be fewer people who would stay on assistance than there have been in the past,” Walker said. “Our goal with all this is ultimately to transition more people into the workplace, because we think it’s better for them, it’s better for employers, and it’s most importantly probably better for the taxpayers.”

The requirements are part of Walker’s “Continuing Wisconsin’s Comeback” outline for the next four years. Walker said he will also:

  •  Cut property taxes so the levy on a typical home in 2018 is lower than it was in 2010.
  •  Reduce income taxes so they are lower in 2018 than they are today.
  •  Provide tax relief for manufacturing and agriculture.
  •  Fight Obamacare, which is raising health insurance premiums for many in Wisconsin.
  •  Expand worker training investments.
  •  Freeze technical college tuition and continue the UW System tuition freeze.
  •  Establish accountability measures for all schools receiving public funding.
  •  Establish high standards for students at the local and state level as an alternative to measures set by people outside of Wisconsin.
  •  Put common sense limits on the time able-bodied, working age childless adults can be on public assistance.

Home Depot consumers warned of credit data breach

State consumer protection officials say anyone who’s shopped at Home Depot between April and May of this year should be checking their credit cards.

The company was recently the target of the same hacking group that perpetrated the Target breach earlier this year, and may have stolen customer data from every store in the country. Consumer protection superintendent Sandy Chalmers says you should already be checking your bank statements. “If you see charges you don’t recognize, contact your bank or credit card provider right away and speak to the fraud department.” Security expert Brian Krebs has reported that the thieves also have zipcode data from each of the stores, and may be able to change and alter the PIN on your accounts as well.

Customers should also be checking their credit statements regularly, especially now that this data is in the wild. “Your credit report includes information about your credit card accounts and other bills you pay, so it’s a good way to find out if someone’s opened a credit account in your name.” Chalmers says if you want to be safer, you should be getting new cards issued to you as soon as possible.

Chalmers says new technology already in place in Europe may be able to help stop some of these data breaches. “Companies are moving towards a chip enabled technology and away from the magnetic strips, which is really a very old technology that is very vulnerable to hacking as we’ve seen over and over again.” That chip and pin technology requires physical access to your card in order to secure the data off of it.

If you have questions about data breaches and other credit security matters, contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s helpline at 1-800-422-7128

WSAU, Raymond Neupert

Gogebic Taconite may scale back mining plan


Gogebic Taconite logo

Gogebic Taconite is considering a plan that would keep a proposed open-pit iron ore mine in Iron County, while dropping plans to dig in Ashland County. GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz says there are concerns about opposition from the Ashland County Board, along with a potentially expensive county ordinance adopted last year.

While the chair of the board has indicated a willingness to work with the company, he says there have been recordings of meetings with mine opponents where he says the mine will not win approval.

A mining ordinance passed by the board could also create difficult financial hurdles. It requires the company to put $100,000 in a fund to help pay for environmental consultants, with a requirement that Gogebic make $50,000 payments every time the county requests one. Seitz says there are no limits on that clause, which means the cost of the project could be “infinite.”

As a result of those issues, Seitz says they are examining a plan that would limit the mine to just Iron County. The 3,200 acre project would have included about 440 acres in Ashland County, so the proposal would still likely include a sizable mining operation.

State Representative Janet Bewley, an Ashland Democrat, argues the county board is simply looking out for the best interests of taxpayers. She says the company should be basing it decisions about the future of the mine on science, not political boundaries.

Gogebic Taconite is still doing sampling and survey work in the area. The company recently said it was pushing back its target date for submitting a formal application to the fall of 2015.

Miller-St. Nazianz acquired by CNH Industrial

millerManitowoc County based Miller-St. Nazianz has been acquired by CNH Industrial, and company president John Miller says nearly everyone will be retained. “One thing that was very important to me in the negotiating process was to keep the employee base intact,” Miller said. “They’ve agreed to hire every single one of our employees. Except for me, actually.”

The firm employs some 260 people, manufacturing spraying equipment, and has been family owned for five generations. CNH also owns Racine-based Case IH. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it’s expected to be finalized by the end of the year. CNH Industrial is a global manufacturer of farm equipment, based in the United Kingdom.


Walker reacts to Potawatomi’s non-payment

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Governor Scott Walker says the decision by the Potawatomi tribe to withhold its annual payment to the state underscores the importance of a review of a proposed Kenosha casino and the money it could end up costing the state.

The Potawatomi failed to make a June payment to the state of about $25 million, arguing that it would be entitled to have the money returned anyway if the governor approves the Menominee tribe’s casino project. The money was put into a reserve, while Walker continues to review the proposed Kenosha project.

The governor’s office released a memo this week indicating that the decision to withhold the payment is already having an impact on the state budget, and Walker told reporters in the Green Bay area Wednesday that it could create a significant hole going forward if the state has to repay more money to the tribe. If he approves the casino, Walker says the Potawatomi believe they could demand refunds for past payments, totaling around $100 million. He says “it would provide a sizeable hole in the budget and I don’t think, for the majority of us, no matter what people may think for or against that particular site, I think there would be a really big concern to the rest of the state if something close to a $100 million hole was put in the budget.”

Walker says he’ll take as much time as he can to make a decision on the Kenosha casino. The deadline is in mid-February.

Meanwhile, the latest Marquette University law school poll shows 49 percent of respondents are on board with the new casino proposal and 35 percent oppose it.