flag image
Form Wealth Management
Community columnists
(click for larger version)

Can we choose an alternative?

November 28, 2013

Guns, guns and more guns. We live in a country where there are more guns than people. In a nation of 300 millions there are guns enough for every man, woman and child, with plenty left over.
And that’s just the ones we know about.

(click for larger version)

Taxes going down in Wisconsin

November 28, 2013

Wisconsin has long been known as a high-tax state.
Excessive income and property taxes can be crippling to Wisconsin families and retirees, which can cut into savings, a vacation fund, home ownership, and even day to day needs, such as food, prescription drugs, and health care.
High taxes can also drive away businesses, hurting Wisconsin’s ability both to attract and retain jobs and grow the economy.
Certainly, a reasonable level of taxes is needed to pay for government services, such as public schools, roads, and health care for those of lesser means. Income tax revenue is deposited into the state’s general fund, which is used primarily to fund five major programs: public education, medical assistance, corrections, local assistance, and the University of Wisconsin System.
Property tax revenue is used for elementary and secondary school districts, technical college districts, special purpose districts, and county and municipal government services, including police and fire protection, sanitation, transportation, and recreation.
Over the last few years, the legislature has been working to reduce taxes, while maintaining a commitment to those important core services. In the 2011-12 session, a property tax freeze was enacted, the first of its kind in state history. As a result, property taxes on a median-valued home decreased for the first time in 12 years. We also made it more difficult to raise taxes by adopting a bill requiring a two-thirds “super-majority” vote of the legislature in order to raise taxes.
As a result, Wisconsin’s tax burden ranking has improved. According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, Wisconsin’s ranking for states with highest state and local taxes fell from ninth highest to tenth highest. That is a significant improvement, as Wisconsin historically has been among or near the top five of all high tax states. While the updated ranking is welcome news, there is more work to be done.
In the current session, the legislature has taken more positive steps to reduce the tax burden. The 2013-15 state budget includes nearly $1 billion in tax relief for Wisconsin taxpayers, including an income tax cut of more than $650 million, one of the largest tax cuts in state history.
The Taxpayers Alliance noted if this tax cut had been included in its recent report, Wisconsin’s ranking would have improved to twelfth place. As a result of the $650 million income tax cut, every state income taxpayer will receive an average income tax reduction of $152 in each of the next two years.
In addition to this impressive income tax relief, Special Session Senate Bill 1 was recently signed into law, providing $100 million more in K-12 school aids, thereby creating additional property tax relief for Wisconsin families, seniors, and businesses. While the amount of relief will vary around the state, the owner of a median-valued home should see a reduction of $18 in this year’s property tax and an increase of only $29 next year.
This will mark the third straight year in which property taxes across the state have gone up less than 1 percent on average. That is not insignificant, as the last time property taxes rose by less than one percent in consecutive years was 1946!
Along with these tax relief efforts, funding for public education remains high. Total state aid for K-12 education equates to $5,932 per pupil in 2013-14 and $6,119 per pupil in 2014-15. More than 39 percent of the state’s general fund expenditures are directed to support public education, which greatly exceeds any other expenditure area in the entire $70 billion state budget. Medical assistance, the second largest state expenditure, accounts for 15 percent of the general fund budget.

The tax reform measures approved by the legislature and enacted by the governor will put more money in the hands of Wisconsin taxpayers without sacrificing vital government services.
Taxpayers should see the results in both their income taxes and their property taxes. These much-needed changes will reduce the tax burden for Wisconsin citizens and make our state more attractive for job growth and economic development. For too long in Wisconsin, tax increases were the status quo; but fortunately, times have changed, and taxes are finally going down.

Senator Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free 1 (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at www.senatorkedzie.com

(click for larger version)

Fall agenda moves Wisconsin forward, more coming soon

November 28, 2013

We recently finished our fall floor period in the state Assembly. Our agenda built upon the previous accomplishments of balancing the budget, reducing the tax burden and improving the job creation climate for private sector businesses. There were numerous bills passed that move Wisconsin in the right direction.
With more than 11,000 new businesses having been created since I was elected in 2011, I am proud to say Wisconsin’s economy is continuing to improve. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently ranked Wisconsin second in the nation for growth. In addition, Wisconsin continues to rank in the top five states for manufacturing, according to CNBC.
However, in order for our state’s economy to continue to improve, we need to ensure our workforce is properly trained. For this reason, we recently passed a set of bills aimed at improving Wisconsin’s workforce development. Our workers need to possess the necessary skills to compete for jobs nationally as well as in the global marketplace. The workforce development package of bills had three main objectives: addressing the skills gap, helping the unemployed and eliminating hurdles to the workforce. For example, we expanded the Youth Apprentice Program, which provides a way for high school students to train for in-demand careers. We also expanded the Wisconsin Workers Win program, which allows unemployed workers to get temporary, on the job training and allows companies with job openings to train and try out a prospective employee.
Additionally, the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at reforming Wisconsin’s mental health system. It is estimated that roughly one in four adult Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. The mental health reforms were the result of findings by the Speaker’s Special Task Force on Mental Health. The task force was led by Rep. Severson (R-Star Prairie), an emergency room doctor, and Rep. Pasch (D-Shorewood), a psychiatric care nurse. The reforms focused on two main goals: the need for increased access to care and the importance of improved coordination between treatment providers.

Finally, the state Assembly passed an election reform package which strengthens the integrity of our elections. We passed an improved version of photo ID, which requires a photo ID to vote. You may recall we had already passed photo ID legislation, but was held up by a liberal Madison judge. The new bill was closely modeled after Indiana’s photo ID law, which was upheld as constitutional by the United State Supreme Court. We also passed a constitutional amendment that reforms the recall election process. The amendment would limit the recall process to only be available when there is criminal or ethical misconduct. You may remember that Wisconsin recently had 15 recall elections, creating recall fatigue and costing taxpayers roughly $16 million, much of it burdening local units of government.
I’m proud of all we were able to accomplish to move Wisconsin forward. I look forward to our next floor period after the holidays to build upon the reforms we’ve already passed.

Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) represents the 32nd Assembly district in southeast Wisconsin. Serving his second term, he is currently the Speaker Pro Tempore of the State Assembly.

Taste of Wisconsin
Nehlen 315x200 Banner RJT.jpg
Site Search

Your national news today
iconOhio congresswoman, not Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to preside over convention
The Democratic National Committee's rules panel has decided that Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, not committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will preside over convention sessions beginning Monday...
icon'Star Trek Beyond' soars with $59M at weekend box office
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Star Trek Beyond" has landed atop the weekend box office...
Pick up The Lake Geneva Regional News at these convenient locations