Property Tax Breaks for Agricultural Land Benefit Developers

Friday, July 9, 2010 at 8:40 PM by

Tax breaks intended to provide property tax relief to farmers have had the side effect of lowering property taxes for some developers, according to a new report released by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau.

Under use value assessment, land used primarily for agricultural purposes is taxed based on its agricultural productivity, rather than its full market value as other land is. As a result, owners of agricultural land pay much lower taxes than they would if the land was not considered agricultural.

State law determines how land is classified for tax purposes, but municipalities determine how the land is zoned, which may give a better picture of how the land will be used in the future. The report examined properties in 14 municipalities, and found that more than 6,300 agricultural acres in those communities were zoned for non-agricultural purposes, and more than 3,800 agricultural acres were owned by real estate or property development businesses. Read more

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DPI Releases General Aid Estimates

Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:45 PM by

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released its estimates for general aid to school districts for the upcoming school year. Total general aid for the 2010-11 school year will be $4.5 billion, an increase of 1/100th of one percent of the aid received in the 2009-10 school year. General aid is the largest source of funding for public schools in Wisconsin.

There are always winners and losers with the school aid formula, but flat funding doesn’t make for many winners. Sixty-one percent of school districts are estimated to receive general aid in the 2010-11 school year that is the same or less than in the 2009-10 school year. Some of the biggest losers include Wisconsin Dells (-17%), Hayward Community (-16%) and Spooner (-15%). The school district with the largest estimated decrease in dollars is Madison Metropolitan, which is slated to receive $6.2 million less in general aid in 2010-11 than in the previous year. Read more

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Wisconsin Leads the Nation in the Ratio of Manufacturing to Government Jobs

Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 3:43 PM by

On a number of occasions this year, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) has lamented that Wisconsin now has fewer manufacturing jobs than government jobs. A WMC report implies that this recent development is a calamitous turn of events and reflects badly on Wisconsin’s business climate.  A new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project compares the ratio of manufacturing to government jobs in every state, and those statistics put Wisconsin in a much different light than the WMC report. 

The premise that a state would want to have more jobs in the manufacturing sector than in government seems reasonable. However, the WMC report raises an obvious question: how does Wisconsin compare to other states in the ratio of manufacturing to government jobs. To answer that question, the Wisconsin Budget Project looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on 2009 employment by sector for each state, and for every year since 1990 we compared Wisconsin’s ratio of manufacturing to government jobs with the same ratio at the national level. Read more

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Different Sales Tax Systems for Online and Main Street Retailers

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 9:57 PM by

Ever notice that you don’t pay sales tax when you make a purchase from Amazon.com? The owner of your local bookstore has noticed, especially because the sales tax puts his or her business is at a competitive disadvantage with online retailers.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a recent article and then a follow-up editorial about the tax advantage online retailers enjoy over Main Street businesses. The Wisconsin Budget Project also recently released a paper on this topic, which includes information about how much money is at stake, why there are different rules for different retailers, and what Wisconsin can do to level the playing field and to make a modest dent in the state’s deficit. Read more

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Update on Proposed Extension of UI Benefits, Medicaid Relief and TANF Emergency Fund

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 10:49 PM by

An estimated 1.7 million jobless Americans, including about 59,000 in Wisconsin, had lost their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by July 3rd because of a Senate filibuster of legislation to extend those benefits. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of directly affected unemployed workers will grow by the end of this week to more than 2.1 million nationally and almost 72,000 in Wisconsin.

In the wake of recent Congressional setbacks — this post explains the somewhat improved prospects for passing a bill next week to restore the extended UI benefits and the diminished chances of extending fiscal relief to the states for Medicaid and TANF program costs.

The Senate has attempted twice in the last two weeks to restore the expiring UI benefits.  On June 30 the Senate fell three votes short of ending the Republican filibuster of HR 4213, which would have restored the UI benefits by 6 months, as well as extending Medicaid fiscal relief and a number of other portions of the Recovery Act. Read more

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House Amendment would mean $180 million for teachers and law enforcement in Wisconsin

Friday, July 2, 2010 at 8:09 PM by

Before adjourning late Thursday, the House took up the “war supplemental” bill approved by the Senate in May, which would appropriate $58.8 billion for war spending and disaster relief. The House voted to add $21 billion for domestic priorities, including $10 billion to states to help reduce the number of teachers and law enforcement personnel who will be laid off as a result of the ongoing fiscal crisis.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has completed a preliminary analysis of the $10 billion provision. They estimate that the Wisconsin share of the funding for teachers and law enforcement would be $180 million.

The House amendment would also add nearly $5 billion to cover a shortfall in the Pall grant program. The domestic spending provisions are fully offset. Although the amendment was approved, the House vote on final passage of the amended supplemental bill has been delayed until Congress reconvenes on July 12. Read more

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Comment Policy

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 7:36 PM by

Thank you for engaging with Wisconsin Budget Project blog. We try to post content that is thought-provoking and conversation-starting, and we will keep our posts respectful, civil, and on-topic. We ask that you do the same when commenting. We do moderate comments and reserve the right to remove any that we deem to be spam, off-topic, offensive, abusive, inappropriate, or that violate privacy. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we do not engage in partisan activities, including on our blog. Read more

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