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Green Bay Packers: Although the NFL lockout remains a threat to off-season activities and even regular season games in the league’s smallest market, the defending Super Bowl champions can boast another title for the time being: ESPN The Magazine ranks the team the No. 1 professional sports franchise among the top four American pro leagues. The rankings were compiled based on, among other things, on-field success, affordability and fan experiences. While the magazine acknowledges that a championship helps, the team also earned points for “below-average ticket prices and unmatched customer service.” The franchise placed first in the categories of both “stadium experience” and “title track” — which projects the championships won or expected in current fans’ lifetimes.
WiscNet: Rural broadband expansion gets a reprieve in the state budget, and rural legislators get a win as the WiscNet program continues under a last-second deal struck by Republicans. Backers argue WiscNet is crucial, particularly in rural areas where private sector telecom firms don’t have much presence. Still, the telecom industry chafes at the compromise, arguing it unfairly allows the government to compete with them; some also raise concerns that the way it’s set up runs contrary to state law. And some observers see the reprieve as temporary, with the future of the program now in the hands of the Joint Finance Committee. And the JFC has already gone on record as wanting to kill the program earlier in the budget process.
Jobs growth: New state unemployment figures show a flattening of the solid job growth that occurred during the first part of the year. The May unemployment rate ticked up to 7.4 percent from 7.3 percent in April while private-sector jobs rose just a net 900. That compares to what the Walker administration says was more than 25,000 jobs in the first quarter. The administration touts a net gain of 1,600 manufacturing jobs in May and says the state remains on pace to meet the oft-stated goal of adding 250,000 jobs in the governor’s first term. The May rate was down from 8.5 percent in May 2010, and remains below the U.S. average of 9.1 percent, as well as the rates in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.