Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lowering property taxes while ensuring excellence in public service

A groundswell of public concern about the affordability of property taxes on the one hand and the need to maintain Wisconsin’s critical infrastructure on the other has prompted several statewide leadership groups to join forces in a historic search for solutions called The Wisconsin Way.

The original conveners of the Wisconsin Way—the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin Realtors Association, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and Wood Communications Group will host a series of public forums throughout the state to gather a variety of perspectives on the property tax issue.

“We’re looking for ideas, answers and opinions, and we want to hear from as many Wisconsin voices as we can, ” says Jim Wood, president of Wood Communications Group. “The Wisconsin Way will build on our state’s unique tradition of encouraging public conversation that is inclusive, fair, innovative and effective.”

The basic problem, Wood says, is that “Most people value their local services and the quality of life those services help secure, but they are concerned about their ability to pay for those services in the future.” He points out, for example, that while residents appreciate the local government services they receive and don’t believe local government is spending too much on these services, they have serious concerns about the taxes they have to pay. Property taxes in Wisconsin, for example, now rank 8th highest in the nation when measured against income. With the cost of living outpacing wage growth for many Wisconsin residents, growing family budget pressure is resulting in rising concerns about the property tax burden. A full 79 percent of Wisconsin residents say they have a lot less or somewhat less money at the end of each month than they did a year ago. (Checkpoint Survey, conducted by Wood Communications Group, July 2007). When asked how much of a burden property taxes place on the family budget, 74 percent of state residents say the burden is very great or somewhat great. (WCA Survey, conducted by Wood Communications Group, Sept. 2006)

“Wisconsin is facing some tremendous challenges, but we also have some great opportunities,” Wood says, “We need to come together to talk about our options.”

Proponents of the Wisconsin Way believe that in order to keep the quality of these services and continue to meet the challenges of the economy, we must find new more efficient and equitable funding solutions and to that end are hosting twelve public conversations around the state this fall and early winter. Community members are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions and concerns at these town-hall style public meetings and community team leaders are being sought to help with the organization and turnout effort. The initial round of public forums will engage residents with the issues at hand and begin to solicit their views on possible solutions. A second series of public forums to be held in early 2008 will distill these views and begin the process of developing realistic and effective policy solutions. All events will be free and open to the public and local news media will be invited to attend.

“We believe this effort is essential to keep Wisconsin’s economy strong and preserve the quality of life we all cherish,” says Bob Burke of the Wisconsin Educators Association Council. “The involvement of a variety of groups and individuals of all ages and backgrounds is critical to the development of public policy that transcends partisan politics and provides lasting solutions. We’re hoping for a strong turnout from our membership in The Wisconsin Way meetings because we believe this broad-based coalition has the potential to create historic change and become a model for other states.”

Please join other Wisconsin residents at The Wisconsin Way public forums in the following locations*:
La Crosse – Thursday, Oct. 10
Wausau – Monday, Oct. 15
Appleton – Monday, October 22
Eau Claire – Thursday, Oct. 18
Green Bay – Tuesday, Oct. 30
Superior – Thursday, Nov. 1
Oshkosh – Thursday, Nov. 6
Waukesha – Thursday, Nov. 8
Janesville – Tuesday, Nov. 13
Milwaukee – Tuesday, Nov. 27
Kenosha – Tuesday, Dec. 4
Madison – Monday, Dec. 6
*Dates and locations are subject to change

Please visit the Web site, www.wisconsinway.org to register yourself, colleagues and friends to attend one of The Wisconsin Way forums. You may also register or get more information about this critical issue, by calling them at 1-800-919-3012 or e-mailing them at wisconsinway@wcgpr.com.

Rep. Hintz comments on Passage of State Budget

MADISON - Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) issued the following statement following Tuesday night's passage of the 2007-2009 State Biennial Budget by the Wisconsin State Assembly:

"The Republican Leadership decided that the best way to compromise was to borrow, use one-time funding, and accounting gimmicks to fund ongoing programs. There are important programs in this budget that deserve state support, but these programs require reliable revenue sources."

"The current Legislature has dug a whole for the next budget by returning to Thompson-era style budgeting I campaigned against. It is no longer acceptable to vote for irresponsible budgets that fund expanding programs with one-time and potentially declining revenue."

"I worked hard to make sure this budget includes funding for the UW-System and the first phase of the Growth Agenda, a six-year plan that will be meaningless if we can't sustain our state's commitment in future budgets. Starting the next budget with an estimated $892 million structural deficit in an uncertain economy makes the challenge that much harder."

"I am hopeful state government can identify savings in this biennium that can be used to reduce our future debt."

The 2007-2009 budget includes a $25,000 aquatic invasive species grant to treat weeds in Miller's Bay as well as a $25,000 grant for neighborhood improvement, both which utilized existing state program funding.

"While the state continues to turn its back on cities like Oshkosh with no increase in shared revenue and unreasonable attacks on local control, I felt it was important to find other ways to secure funding for these important projects for Oshkosh."

CHICAGO Peace Rally Saturday: Signup NOW!

We have about 30 people comitted for our bus to this Saturday's Oct. 27th rally in Chicago, with space still available. Get your friends together and participate in an energetic and festive day. With weather in the upper 50's all weekend, there's no reason not to participate.

Cost: $30 or $15 to students/low-income

RESERVE NOW by contacting Bob Poeschl carpepax@riseup.net or 920-312-0529

Logistics for Chicago, October 27th: Oshkosh bus leaving at 9 am from Park and Ride lot at 41/44. Stop in Fond du Lac 9:45 at Mall lot in front of Younkers, near Johnson (where we Honk for Peace) for Fond du Lac pick-up. We will head back around 6 or 6:30 PM.

The way it works once we are in Chicago: Gather in Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph- for the first Rally, which starts at 1:30 pm; then a big March to Federal Plaza; and another Rally there, from 4 – 6 pm. George Martin and David Newby are speakers from Wisconsin – and the Madison-area Raging Grannies will be on stage, too! More on speakers and parking as the plans develop at www.oct27chicago.org.
--
Winnebago Peace and Justice Center
321 Market Street
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

King not yet definite about seeking state senate seat

Some rumors are circulating that Oshkosh Common Councilor Jessica King intends to seek the State Senate District 18 seat currently held by Carol Roessler (R). In fact, over the weekend, at the JFK dinner, former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager mentioned that King had taken out papers to run for Roessler's seat. But, when contacted early Tuesday morning, King said she has so far only filed an EB-1 form, so that she can explore her options. While her future candidacy may well be a possibility, King said she has not yet made up her mind and added there is still much work to be done before any such official announcement would be made.

Roessler's term expires Jan. 2009 and it has been rumored she may not seek re-election. She has come under a great deal of fire this term, with some groups even sponsoring billboard ads asking her not to run again.

As for King, she was elected to the Oshkosh Common Council in April 2007 and if elected to a senatorial seat, could hold both posts, should she choose to finish out the remaining three months of her council term. Whether she would choose to do that, is another issue altogether and one she will no doubt wrestle with should she decide to run for the senate, and be elected. In the meantime, King has said she will keep us posted as to her intentions and we will bring that information to you when we have it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Charity auction to benefit animals at Oshkosh Area Humane Society

OAHS CHARITY AUCTION
FEATURING A LIVE AUCTIONEER
OCTOBER 27, 2007
ELKS CLUB
175 W FERNAU AVE, OSHKOSH

PREVIEW ITEMS 10:00 AM
LIVE AUCTION 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
SILENT AUCTION 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

MANY ITEMS, INCLUDING:

Salt & Pepper Shaker Collection
Steiff Rabbit
Furniture
Signed, limited edition prints
Framed Artwork
Collectibles
Some Tools
Small Kitchen Appliances
Dinnerware & Flatware
Jewelry
Star Sapphire Ring & Necklace
Antique School Desk
Cross Country Skis
Toys
Much, Much More

FOOD & BEVERAGES AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

JOIN US AND MAKE A DAY OF IT WITH YOUR FAMILY

ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT THE ANIMALS AT THE OSHKOSH AREA HUMANE SOCIETY


THE ANIMALS NEED YOUR SUPPORT – SEE YOU THERE

For More Information: Call (920) 424-2128 or visit them on the World Wide Web at www.oahs.org

Friday, October 19, 2007

Governor Doyle, Legislative Leaders Announce Agreement on State Budget

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle joined with Speaker Mike Huebsch, Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson and Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser to announce a budget agreement.

“For the first time in a long time Wisconsin has a budget – one that funds our priorities and creates opportunity for regular hardworking people,” Governor Doyle said. “Today, the Legislature has done the right thing for our schools; for the safety of our neighborhoods; for the health of our kids and the health of our economy. This has been a difficult process for all of us, but today Democrats and Republicans begin anew, ready to move this state forward, and ready to create opportunity for hardworking Wisconsin families.”

Nearly nine months ago Governor Doyle presented his budget to the Legislature – a plan to create opportunity for middle class families and those trying to get there. He laid out an agenda for how to fund education; make health care more affordable; provide targeted tax relief to middle class families; and create good-paying jobs for our citizens.

When the Governor introduced his budget, he called on Democrats and Republicans to work together to pursue an opportunity agenda for the families and businesses of this state. Today, the leaders of the Legislature answered his call.

The agreement reached today ensures quality education for Wisconsin students. The bill:

Ø Meets Wisconsin’s commitment to fund two-thirds the cost of every child’s education … protecting our schools while taking the burden off of property taxpayers.

Ø Moves forward on the Wisconsin Covenant – our promise to eighth graders that if they work hard, maintain a B average, and take the classes they need to go to college, there will be a spot for them in our state’s universities or colleges.

Ø Makes sure kids get off to the right start, by investing $3 million in four-year-old kindergarten, $3.2 million in school breakfast, and $27 million to create smaller class sizes in the early grades.

Ø Includes reforms in the school financing system that help rural districts with transportation costs, and treat districts with declining enrollment more fairly.

Ø Invests $32 million in financial aid so talented students who have earned their way into our states universities have the resources they need to help them succeed. The funding puts the state on pace to triple financial aid by the end of this fiscal term.

Ø Keeps a promise made to all Wisconsin veterans to provide free college tuition to all Wisconsin veterans by investing $12 million.

Ø Fully funds the University’s Growth Agenda to expand enrollment and train the next generation of nurses, engineers, chemists, biologists, and skilled workers that our economy needs.

The agreement reached today makes health care more accessible and affordable. The bill:

Ø Ensures that at least 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens have access to health coverage through BadgerCare Plus – more than any other state in the nation.

Ø Offers every Wisconsin family the opportunity to buy affordable health coverage for their child, starting at about $10 a month so no family would lose coverage just because their income goes up through BadgerCare Plus. It also expands coverage to more than 70,000 hardworking adults.

Ø Makes every dollar families pay in health premiums completely tax free.

Ø Increases the cigarette tax by $1 to reduce smoking rates and dedicates new funds to pay the cost of tobacco-related illness.

Ø Invests $30 million in smoking prevention and cessation programs.

The agreement reached today creates jobs and opportunity. The bill:

Ø Includes $15 million in the second year to make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy and the fight against global warming.

Ø Provides tax credits to grow and expand Wisconsin’s bio-industry, tax credits to modernize and expand Wisconsin’s cheese industry, and a tax exemption directed at Wisconsin’s manufacturers to help them with their energy costs.

Ø Increases funding for job training programs so workers can get ahead … with 75 percent of the money devoted toward manufacturing.

Ø Reauthorizes the Stewardship Fund at $85 million per year for 10 years with legislative oversight.

The agreement reached today is fiscally responsible. The bill:

Ø Ends with a surplus of $65 million. The Governor also deposited $55 million to the state’s Rainy Day Fund for a total savings of $120 million.

Ø Includes targeted tax cuts so families can deduct more of what they pay for health care, child care, and college, and ends the tax on Social Security benefits. This is real, meaningful relief for middle class families – tax cuts that will make life in Wisconsin more affordable.

Ø Has tight property tax limits. In the last two years, Wisconsin families saw the smallest property tax increases in a decade. This budget, builds on that progress … holding property tax increases to less than the rate of inflation for the average home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Statement of Governor Doyle on the Assembly's Refusal to Pass a Budget

MADISON - Nearly nine months after Governor Doyle introduced his budget to the Legislature, the Assembly still refuses to pass budget. This evening, the Assembly voted against a compromise budget bill.

Governor Doyle made the following statement:

“Extreme elements of the Republican Assembly have again won out by not supporting this compromise. Under the Constitution, it is the Legislature’s job to pass a budget, and for nearly nine months they have failed to do it.

“They have failed once again and do not seem to have any plan on how to meet their duty. The only budget the Republican Assembly has passed slashes health care, education, and public safety, and I will not let that happen.

“Lawmakers have created a fiscal nightmare for this state. The cost to operate school buses, pay heating bills, and maintain roads has gone up, and lawmakers refuse to deal with it. The state is spending more than we are taking in, and we will be unable to fund essential services that protect the health and safety of our citizens. The people of this state count on their legislators to make the tough choices necessary to lead this state, and they have failed.

“The Legislature’s failure has real and far reaching consequences for families and businesses in this state. In the coming weeks, all across the state, homeowners will see an increase in their property taxes because the Legislature has failed to do its job.

“I hope that lawmakers get the message now – we are nearing an emergency.”

Harris elected to CEAA Board

Congratulations are in order for Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris on his recent election to the position of vice president of the Wisconsin County Executive and Administrators Association. It is an honor to have one of our own hold such a position. You can read the full press release by going here. Congratulations again, Mark.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

City lawsuit against Ganther over 100 Block settles

The Oshkosh Northwestern is reporting that the city’s lawsuit against Ben Ganther over the 100 Block development has been settled and the Oshkosh Common Council on Tuesday approved the settlement in a closed door session.

Details of the settlement are in the newspaper’s article, but in essence the settlement represents just a little under one-half of the $320,000 Ganther and his business partner Robert Niebauer currently owe the city “based on personal guarantees to cover the difference between taxes generated by the property and the amount needed to cover city debt payments on the complex. The city contributed $2.2 million, or 25 percent of construction costs, through a developer’s assistance grant.”

State law does not allow a municipality to sue for projected shortfalls – only what is currently owed. “City tax dollars will now have to cover the total $2.6 million in interest and principal payments anticipated over the life of the bonds issued for the building,” the article says. And the settlement assures Ganther that the city will not pursue any of those future shortfalls in subsequent litigation.

There is mixed reaction from the council over this settlement; and rightfully so. On the one hand, it is a very small amount of what Ganther and his partner owe us for this development gone bad. On the other hand, it is the opinion of the mediator that if a settlement could not be reached, Ganther would file bankruptcy and, as a result, the city would recover nothing. That is, after all, exactly what his partner, Niebauer, is doing. So, it appears something is better than nothing whether we’re happy about it or not. Wisdom often comes with a price tag – surely that is true in the city’s dealing with Mr. Ganther.

Steep as the price is, here is what I believe we’ve learned: Do all TIFs with a pay-as-you-go philosophy or if something better comes along in time, consider that approach to doing TIF agreements; ask a lot of questions concerning TIF agreements and don’t just swallow what staff or developers say hook, line and sinker; look closely at a developer’s track record, including the track record of their partners; and refrain from doing business with Ben Ganther or other developers who either have poor track records or who are unwilling or express reluctance to put a reasonable amount of their own money where their mouth is. In the long run, this kind of wisdom could indeed be priceless.

Kraft retires as city attorney

According to emails from city manager Richard Wollangk to Oshkosh Common Council members and this report in the Oshkosh Northwestern's online version, city attorney Warren Kraft has retired. His last day was yesterday, though with a combination of severance and accrued leave his last day will officially be Jan. 2.

The timing is interesting and cause for suspicion, I think. But equally interesting is a special meeting the Common Council had Tuesday afternoon prior to its regular council meeting. The notice of the special meeting certainly suggests that the 100 block financing and Kraft's performance in that matter was a topic of discussion during that meeting and I understand James Kalny, the attorney from Green Bay which the council used in its discussions surrounding Wollangk was present for the meeting. Also interesting is councilor Tony Palmeri's withdrawal of a request for a special open meeting to discuss the financing matters of the 100 block.

I wrote yesterday that the council should ask Kraft to provide at a televised council meeting so citizens can hear it, his explanation of the 100 block financing and why his advice was what it was. We all deserve to know, too, why Kraft could not remember anything about it when asked by the Oshkosh Northwestern, but suddenly when faced with great public pressure and council questions, he is not only able to recall in specific detail, but is even able to cite an appellate court ruling to buttress his position. It has been suggested to me that he was trying to re-write history; that may not be so far from the truth.

In any event, Kraft is still on the taxpayers' dime; councilors contacted by the Northwestern still want to have a discussion of 100 block financing; and I believe he should still explain his position and advice to fellow staffers in front of the council and cameras. The public paying his salary and "retirement" benefits deserve an explanation.

P.S. Since the word "severance" was used in the Oshkosh Northwestern article, I'm just wondering how one gets severance when they voluntarily leave their position? If anyone can explain that I'd be interested to know how that's possible unless that's the way some kind of employment agreement, if one existed, was worded. I also want to thank Warren Kraft for his years of service - they weren't all marred with these kinds of issues. Here's wishing both he and Richard Wollangk the best in their future endeavors.

Are there signs of progress in the state buget debate?

Lost in the chatter about cutting legislative salaries or expenses if lawmakers fail to pass a state budget is the fact that they and Gov. Jim Doyle have been slowly chipping away at major issues that stand between them and an agreement. The prolonged haggling may produce a good budget, writes Inside Wisconsin columnist Tom Still, but it also may create a lingering perception that our policymakers can't work together.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

6th Cong Dist Dems JFK Dinner In Honor of the Webers - RSVPs Needed

Hello members and Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party!

Sunday, October 21st is the Annual JFK Dinner at the Ramada Inn (1 N
Main St, Fond du Lac).

This year's dinner is in honor of Woody & Dale Weber.
There will me a memoriam and a plaque acknowledging their many
contributions to Democratic causes throughout their lifetimes.

Also speaking will be:

Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager
6th Congressional Candidate Roger Kittelson
Rep Gordon Hintz

Social Hour begins at 5:00PM, with dinner and program at 6:00PM.

Tickets are $30 for one or a table of 10 for $275.

Please RSVP by Friday, October 12th if you can make it by responding to
this email (jef@jef4wi.com), or calling me at 920.203.6883.
We need a count to give to the Ramada.

Also, if you join the party today (for non-members) your membership is
good for all of 2008!

Current members, renew for 2008 now!

Go to: www.winnebagodems.com and select
"Click here to join!"

As always, contact me at anytime with questions!

Thanks,

-jef-

Jef Hall
Chair, Winnebago County Democratic Party
2nd Vice Chair, Democratic Party of WI

224A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901
920.203.6883

jef@jef4wi.com
www.winnebagodems.com
www.jef4wi.com

Authorized and paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party.

Governor Doyle Urges Legislature to Support UW-Oshkosh in Special Session

OSHKOSH – Governor Jim Doyle today urged the Legislature to support the Growth Agenda for UW-Oshkosh during a Special Session of the full Legislature on a compromise budget bill on Monday, October 15. The compromise budget bill will move forward on crucial construction projects on the UW-Oshkosh campus – including new residence halls, remodeling and additions to the Elmwood Center, new academic buildings, and other important improvements to the campus.

“Every additional day that the Republican leaders play politics and ignore their responsibility, real people suffer,” Governor Doyle said. “I know there are Assembly Republicans who share our vision to grow UW-Oshkosh, and will not stand in the way of a budget any longer. If the Legislature has not come to an agreement by Monday, then I expect both houses to pass this compromise bill – because Wisconsin families cannot afford to wait any longer.”

As part of the Special Session, the Governor will introduce a new compromise budget bill that will reflect exactly where negotiations were before Republican leaders made clear they never really wanted a budget. The compromise budget bill will fund UW-Oshkosh’s Growth Agenda, and fund financial aid for students and veterans.

The bill will cut spending by $430 million and eliminate $300 million of new revenue.

The compromise bill will remove all the non-fiscal policy items in both the Assembly and the Senate versions that were not agreed to by both sides. It will fund Wisconsin's priorities and cut taxes for middle class families. It will ensure quality education for our schools, provide a new investment in our universities, and ensure health care access to 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens.

After weeks of give and take, there was progress on both sides as they moved toward an agreement. Senate Democrats were willing to give up their health plan, cut $430 million in spending, and take the real estate transfer fee and combined reporting off the table. The Assembly Republicans were willing to accept the $1.25 tobacco tax, back away from their massive cuts to public schools, and drop some of their other draconian cuts as well. We thought they were making progress.

Yet whenever negotiations got to a point where an agreement could easily be reached, extreme voices in the Republican caucus let out a howl and the leaders shy away. Now they’ve backed away even farther. They are no longer willing to accept a $1.25 cigarette tax and are reviving their extreme cuts to Wisconsin’s priorities.

Extreme Republicans still want to cut the university by $60 million, slash financial aid by $20 million, cut aid to veterans by another $6.5 million, and eliminate our new efforts to reduce smoking in Wisconsin.

The Governor wants to put this state on a permanent path of fiscal stability, grow UW-Oshkosh, and harness all of the Fox Valley’s potential to thrive. But extreme Republicans are playing politics with this region’s future.

The state has operated without a new budget since July 1. The Legislature’s failure to pass a budget is affecting tax payers, students, and residents across the state. Currently, 5,544 university students are on waiting lists for financial aid. The expansion of the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center for sex offenders may be delayed without a budget, and dozens of important road projects may be postponed or cancelled.

Without a budget, university students could face a tuition surcharge of over $800. If the Department of Public Instruction cannot use a new budget to determine aid levels by next Monday, local schools will be forced to either lay off teachers or raise property taxes.

At the Department of Corrections, a $370 million shortfall will create dangerous conditions for security officers and citizens by forcing modified lockdowns and preventing the state from using GPS technology to monitor child sex offenders. These and many other state programs are threatened by the lack of a new budget, and Wisconsin residents and families will suffer as a result. For these reasons, not passing a budget is not an option.

Kraft explains to manager, council about 100 block; public should hear same

On September 30, the Oshkosh Northwestern ran this article about the finances involved in the 100 block LLC development and emails from city attorney Warren Kraft as they related to that project. That was followed up with an editorial by executive editor Stew Rieckman concerning secrecy as a whole in the city – an editorial with which I happened to agree.

When we taped an episode of Eye on Oshkosh on Thursday, Oct. 4 with two council members who happened to be on the council (no current council member was on the council back then) at the time this deal with Ben Ganther and his partners was brokered, we spoke about the Northwestern article and the editorial column. While I agree there is much secrecy that does seem to be promoted by city hall, I also said at the time it was possible – without having seen Kraft’s entire email exchange with city staffers from back then – that his comments may have been taken out of context.

One day later, in a memo to the city manager, which subsequently went to members of the Oshkosh Common Council, Kraft offered a full explanation of his position and why he offered the advice several years ago that he did. Councilor Tony Palmeri had earlier said he intended to request a special open meeting where city staff members could discuss with the council the documents regarding the 100 block financing. Last night, however, he withdrew his request, apparently saying that since Kraft’s memo he no longer believes there is a need for the special meeting. A special meeting may not be necessary, but Palmeri missed a golden opportunity to have the city attorney explain for the viewing audience and all taxpayers, in a public venue, why his advice on 100 block financing was what it was back then.

Everyone does not have access to the Internet, and even if they do, not everyone reads blogs. But they do watch the Common Council meetings on cable access. It seems to me that Palmeri, or any councilor for that matter, should ask Kraft to summarize his memo for the public so that everyone knows his reasoning. It does not have to be a confrontational situation, nor does it have to smell of the "gotcha politics" we so frequently see at meetings. But since the public's money was involved in this project, the public is entitled to the same explanation as the city manager and common council members. It might also be a good idea for the Oshkosh Northwestern to publish Kraft’s entire memo in its print version so those without Internet access can read it for themselves.

Monday, October 08, 2007

STUDY SHOWS THE FOX CITIES PERFORMING ARTS CENTER HAS POSITIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY

APPLETON, WI (October 8, 2007) - Earlier this summer the Americans for the Arts announced their latest findings in the most comprehensive impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States entitled Arts and Economic Prosperity III. Using the calculators provided by this study it is found that the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center generates an annual average of $14.27 million in local economic activity including an average of $1.76 million in state and local tax revenues.

"We hear stories from many in the community who have a hard time remembering what the Fox Cities was like before the opening of the Center," stated Susan Stockton, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. "We have long thanked the community for embracing this organization and playing the vital role of enabling us to reach such incredible heights in a very short time. Now we have some results of how this support and involvement also positively affects our local economy."

The total economic activity of the Center has a significant local impact, generating the following on average each year:

* 636 full-time equivalent jobs – This figure describes the total amount of labor employed. Economists measure full-time equivalent jobs (FTE) not the total number of employees, because it is a more accurate measure that accounts for part-time employment.*
* Over $12.51 million in resident household income – This figure includes salaries, wages and entrepreneurial income paid to local residents.*
* Over $708,000 in local government revenues and nearly $1.05 million in state government revenues – These figures include revenue from taxes (i.e., income, property or sales) as well as funds from license fees, utility fees, filing fees and other similar sources.*

"This study is a myth buster," said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. "Most Americans understand that the arts improve our quality of life. This study demonstrates that the arts are an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive."

This groundbreaking study provides another confirmation that a thriving performing arts center that presents a wide range of events has a beneficial effect on the community economically. Investing in the mission-based activities of a nonprofit arts organization, such as the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, through contributions is an investment in the Fox Cities that has a positive economic impact as well.

The opening of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center five years ago has made an incredible impression on our community. "When we were discussing the city's contribution to this project some questioned how the city would be paid back," recalled Appleton Mayor Timothy Hanna. "Now we have a study that underscores the increased level of activity for downtown businesses beyond our casual observations." A recent revaluation conducted by the City of Appleton indicated that property values in the downtown area increased by 32 percent on average since the last revaluation done in 2003. "Intuitively you can guess what happened as you look around at the unique shops, nice restaurants, new and old spaces that are now being more fully utilized and hold booming businesses," added Hanna.

"The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center has played a vital role in our ability to recruit some of the top candidates for employment from across the country to our area," said Mike Weller, president of Miller Electric Manufacturing Company and chairman of the board at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. "When candidates and their families are taking a tour of the area we are always sure to include a visit to the P.A.C. and this visit so strongly exemplifies the value the community places on the quality of life. The P.A.C. and the events offered there impress the candidates and certainly excite them about joining our community."

The Northeast Wisconsin study, led by the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, was one of 156 communities that participated in Arts and Economic Prosperity III. It documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions and five states — representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The diverse study regions range in population (4,000 to 3 million) and type (rural to urban). Researchers collected detailed expenditure and attendance data from 6,080 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 94,478 of their attendees to measure total industry spending. Data was collected from 32 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Northeast Wisconsin (including Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties here referred to as Northeast Wisconsin) including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Each provided detailed budget information about more than 40 expenditure categories for fiscal year 2005 (e.g., labor, payments to local and non-local artists, operations, materials, facilities and asset acquisition) as well as their total attendance figures. Project economists customized input/output analysis models to calculate specific and reliable findings for each study region. This study focuses solely on the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and event-related spending by their audiences. Not included in this study are spending by individual artists and the for-profit arts and entertainment sector (e.g., motion picture industry and for-profit art galleries).

* Definitions provided by The Americans for the Arts Arts and Economic Prosperity III.

The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, located in downtown Appleton, provides a premier venue for live performing arts attractions and celebrates its fifth anniversary season in 2007/08. The Center proudly serves as a gathering place for the community to engage in educational opportunities while enhancing a greater understanding and appreciation of the performing arts. For more information on upcoming events, education programs and community involvement go to www.foxcitiespac.com.

Governor Doyle Announces Time Warner Cable Expansion in Appleton

APPLETON– Governor Jim Doyle today announced $1,050,000 for Time Warner Cable of Milwaukee County to construct a state-of-the-art, 130,000-square foot Northern Wisconsin Operations Facility. The expansion is expected to create up to 300 jobs in the Fox Valley.

“One of my top priorities is to help move industries, companies, and communities forward, and create good-paying jobs for our citizens," said Governor Doyle. “I’m pleased that Time Warner Cable has chosen to again expand in Wisconsin, and that we could assist the company in bringing hundreds of new jobs to the Fox River Valley.”

The new Time Warner Cable building in Appleton will include a new technical operations center, an expanded warehouse, a state-of-the-art training facility, a full service production studio, and meeting and conference room space. Total project cost is estimated at $20 million.

“I want to thank Governor Jim Doyle, Secretary Mary Burke, and the Department of Commerce, for expeditiously and cooperatively responding to Time Warner Cable’s request for assistance,” said Jack Herbert, President of Time Warner Cable. “The state’s assistance was what allowed us to obtain approval to build our new, state-of-the-art facility in Wisconsin, and we appreciate that this administration has been a supporter of businesses.”

Time Warner Cable serves 14.7 million customers in 33 states with some of the most technologically advanced and best-clustered cable systems in the country.

Wisconsin Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Aaron Olver awarded the Enterprise Development Zone Tax Credits on behalf of the Governor at a press conference held at the company’s Appleton facility. The Enterprise Development Zone Program provides tax incentives to new or expanding businesses whose projects will affect areas with high unemployment.

For more information on Commerce programs and services, contact the Commerce area development manager at: www.commerce.wi.gov/BD/BD-Fax-0901.html.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Winnebago Dems October Newsletter

Hello Members and Friends of the Winnebago County Democratic Party!

Please see the attached newsletter. If the attachment does not come through, please click here:

http://jef4wi.com/files/oct07newsletter.pdf


Also, if you join the party today (for non-members) your membership is good for all of 2008!

Current members, renew for 2008 now!

Click here: www.winnebagodems.com and select “Click here to join!”

As always, contact me at anytime with questions!

Jef Hall

Chair, Winnebago County Democratic Party

2nd Vice Chair, Democratic Party of WI
224A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901
920.203.6883
jef@jef4wi.com
www.winnebagodems.com
www.jef4wi.com

Authorized and paid for by the Winnebago County Democratic Party.

Five Oshkosh Schools Recognized for Fulfilling "New WisconsinPromise"

Five Oshkosh Schools Recognized for Fulfilling
"New Wisconsin Promise"
Rep. Hintz Praises Local Schools for Preparing Students
for 21st Century

October 3, 2007 - MADISON- Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) joined State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster, First Lady Jessica Doyle and other
Wisconsin legislators in honoring 163 New Wisconsin Promise Schools of Recognition. Among the schools recognized were five from Oshkosh-North High, Merrill Middle, Webster Stanley Middle, Webster Stanley Elementary, and Washington Elementary.

"I'm incredibly proud of these schools in Oshkosh for receiving this recognition," said Rep. Hintz. "The teachers, parents, and administrators at these schools have continued to demonstrate a determination and will to succeed and provide students with a sound education that prepares them for success in the future."

The schools receiving this recognition have surpassed the state average for reading and mathematics assessments while being among the highest poverty levels in the state. They are also recognized for having made adequate progress per year over the last few years as determined by the No Child Left Behind Act. Each school receiving this honor also received a plaque and a prize of $1500 to be used for any school-related activity.

The event was capped off with a performance by the Oshkosh North High School Chorale and A Cappella Choir. Representative Hintz is a graduate of Oshkosh North, Webster Stanley Middle, and Washington Elementary and was pleased to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Oshkosh community and the passion for education that it has shown throughout the years.

"I would like to extend my congratulations to the schools that were given this high honor today," added Hintz. "Today is a proud day for me not only as an Oshkosh legislator but as a former student of these Oshkosh schools. My education in Oshkosh gave me the opportunity to succeed and prepared me for future endeavors, and I am grateful."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Governor Doyle Warns of Consequences if Legislature Fails to Pass Budget

APPLETON – Governor Jim Doyle today warned of the severe consequences for the state if the Legislature fails to pass a state budget. For over eight months the Legislature has failed to pass a budget, forcing thousands of students onto waiting lists for financial aid, putting the expansion of the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center for sex offenders on hold, and delaying or possibly canceling important road projects across the state.

If the Legislature does not pass a budget, local schools will be forced to layoff teachers or raise property taxes. On October 15, the Department of Public Instruction must notify local school district how much state aid each schools will receive. Without a new budget, property taxes will rise over $600 million.

“The Legislature’s job is to pass a budget,” Governor Doyle said. “A week ago both sides were billions apart, but today we have significantly narrowed the differences. But there is still work to do. I am available to both sides around the clock in order to help them come to an agreement. As Governor, I have to plan for the real consequences that will hit this state if the Legislature continues to fail to pass a budget. Not passing a budget is not an option.”

Some Assembly Republicans have said repeatedly that not having a budget is an option. Just days after the Governor submitted his budget to the Legislature, Republicans requested information from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on the fiscal impact of a continuation budget. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the bureau estimates the GOP budget scheme would mean a $357 million increase in property taxes, no limits on local property tax levies, transportation projects cut in half, and cuts to state agencies, as well as corrections systems.

Just last week, while Legislative leaders and my Administration were working hard at the Executive Residence, Republican legislators were out saying Wisconsin did not need a budget until Christmas.

The Governor said these Legislators are dead wrong, and need to continue to compromise in order to pass a budget.

· Colleges and universities have already begun the fall session, and without a budget our college students could face a tuition surcharge of over $800.

· Without a budget, the Department of Corrections will face a shortfall of over $370 million over the biennium, and will be unable to fund GPS monitoring of child sexual assault offenders.

· Without a budget, there is no expansion to Family Care. There are currently 11,000 people on waiting lists for the affordable long term care Family Care provides. Every month that Family Care is not implemented, 32 seniors are added to the waiting lists in 27 counties that have already moved toward expanding Family Care.

· SeniorCare will be short more than $9 million. When this occurs, current law requires the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) to stop paying pharmacies for drugs purchased under SeniorCare and allows pharmacies to begin charging our seniors. Seniors under SeniorCare now pay $5 for a prescription for a generic drug. If the Legislature does not pass a budget, the average senior will now pay more than $60 for every single prescription.

· Child care assistance for low-income families will face a $34 million shortfall over the biennium, which means there will be insufficient funds to fully reimburse child care providers.

· BadgerCare will be short more then $11 million, requiring DHFS to cut eligibility levels.

· The state health care system will be 7 percent short of funding in the first fiscal year and 11 percent short in the second. To deal with this, the Department estimates it will need to reduce all hospital, physician and clinic services by 35 percent. Long term care provider reimbursement rates would need to be reduced by 15 percent. Rates for prescription drug services would be reduced by 10 percent. It is estimated that the state will lose $400 million in federal matching funds related to these shortfalls.

· Without new bonding authority, the Department of Transportation will eventually slow or postpone major projects, including: Hwy 41, DePere to Suamico and STH 26 to Breezewood Lane; improvements to Eau Claire Bypass on Hwy 53; the Jefferson Bypass on Hwy 26, and many others.

Over the last week, the Legislature has made significant progress by making real compromises to come to an agreement. The Legislature needs to continue working and narrowing partisan differences, and get this budget done for the citizens of Wisconsin.

For more information on the consequences of the Legislature not passing a budget, go to: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=12108.