February 7, 2016

Lambeau Field sales tax plan clears state Senate

Lambeau FieldThe Wisconsin Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday which would send excess revenue from the Lambeau Field sales tax to local municipalities.

The excess funds come after Brown County’s half-percent sales tax for the 2003 renovation and maintenance of Lambeau Field reached its goal at the end of March. Estimates show $17.6 million will be collected from April 1 through the end of the sales tax on September 30.

The bill would set aside one-quarter of the money for redeveloping the aging Brown County Arena, worth about $4.4 million. The other $13.2 million would be distributed to the county’s municipalities based on population, to be used for property tax relief, debt reduction or economic development.

If no action is taken, the excess money could sit in a state account for 16 more years.

State Representative David Steffen (R-Howard) is the main sponsor of the Assembly bill, while State Senator Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) is the main sponsor in that chamber.

“Passage of this bill represents the completion of the agreement made between the state and the taxpayers of Brown County back in 2000,” Cowles said in a statement. “I’m pleased to have worked with Representative Steffen and the stakeholders to return this money in a fair manner to the hard-working taxpayers in communities within Brown County.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly, in session next week.



Wisconsin tax collections exceed estimates

State tax collections during the last fiscal year came in at about $71 million more than what has originally been projected.

A report from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau this week shows the state took in nearly $15 billion during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, well above the $14.47 billion that had been estimated in January. The report shows much of the increase was the result of a bump in corporate income and franchise tax collections.

Under state law, about $12 million of the excess collections must go into the state’s rainy day fund. The remaining $60 million or so will increase the opening general fund balance for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Lawmaker wants excess Lambeau tax revenue for Brown County

Lambeau Field

Lambeau Field

Returning excess revenue from the Brown County stadium sales tax which ends next month is the goal of a bill by a state lawmaker. Representative David Steffen (R-Howard) introduced a bill Tuesday which would pay back over $17 million to communities in Brown County.

Last Friday, Steffen received the new fiscal estimate that indicates the amount of excess revenue Brown County and its subdivisions are likely to get from the 0.5% sales tax.

“This money is transformative, it’s game changing, and it provides a great opportunity for community leaders who are behind me and those throughout the communities to do some great things in coordination with the people,” Steffen said, according to FOX 11.

That half-percent sales tax has helped pay for Lambeau Field’s renovations and maintenance over the past 15 years.

The goal of that sales tax was reached at the end of March. However, the tax will continue to be in place until September and will generate the extra revenue that Steffen’s legislation deal with.

Steffen’s plan would see 25 percent of the money go to the county for redeveloping the aging Brown County Arena. Remaining funds would be distributed to the county’s municipalities based on population. Those municipalities would have to use the money for either debt reduction or economic development.

Over the past 2 years, the stadium district board has been working on plans for that excess revenue. The board has yet to take a stance on Steffen’s plan.


Wisconsin property values see modest increase

Statewide property values saw a second year of growth, but they continue to lag behind pre-recession levels.

A report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows property values rose by 2.4 percent for 2015, following last year’s increase of 2.6 percent. Researcher Dale Knapp noted values still remain below where they were when the Great Recession began. “The total value is about $491 billion. So, despite the increases of the last couple of years, we’re still below the 2008 market peak of about $514 billion,” Knapp said.

The rate of growth varied widely across the state, with some areas even seeing property values decline slightly. Beloit saw the biggest increase of the state’s 20 largest metro areas at 5.9 percent, followed by Eau Claire, Madison, and La Crosse. Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, saw overall values decline by six-tenths of a percent.

Kind pushes ‘Rebuilding American Manufacturing Act’

US Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)

US Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)

A Wisconsin Congressman wants to create new incentives to help strengthen U.S. manufacturing businesses, and encourage them to keep jobs in America.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) has introduced what he calls the “Rebuilding American Manufacturing Act.” The legislation calls for reducing federal tax rates as a way to incentivize companies to keep manufacturing jobs in the country, and to encourage those already moved abroad to return here. The Wisconsin Democrat argues “if we could reduce the rate, so it’s at a more competitive level internationally, there’s less incentive for companies to move overseas.”

If passed, Kind says the legislation would make it advantageous for manufacturers to stay in the U.S., and also for others to move back to here. “It’s a reduction in federal tax rates to make it more competitive for domestic manufacturers to keep those businesses in Wisconsin and in the United States rather than having to move product lines overseas. If we could reduce the rate so it’s at a more competitive level internationally, there’s less incentive then for companies to move overseas.”

Kind says the Rebuilding American Manufacturing Act creates a new section of the tax code to promote American manufacturing by reducing the effective tax rate of domestic manufacturers to 20 percent. This will provide important benefits to firms that are investing and hiring domestically, and those firms can then use the savings to continue investments in innovation and growth here at home.

He says there are many reasons manufacturers should strongly consider staying in America or moving back to America. “We have very strong intellectual property protections, we have a higher skilled labor force to tap into, we have better commerce, and transportation systems. We have better protection of intellectual property.”

Kind says 16% of our Wisconsin private workforce is involved in the manufacturing sector, which is well above the national average of 9%. He says investing in American manufacturing is critical to remaining competitive in a global economy.  “If we get the policy aligned with certain advantages, this could be a new renaissance for U.S. Manufacturing.”