MON AM News: Evers suggests Foxconn project horizon known only for next few years; WPF report focuses on property values and taxes

— Gov. Tony Evers is casting doubt on Foxconn’s ability to create thousands of jobs in the state following a recent visit with company leaders in Japan. 

Speaking at a luncheon last week, the guv said the state is “trying” to be supportive of the company’s current plans but added “the likelihood that it has a massive number of production workers is very unlikely.” 

Evers said the state’s certainty surrounding the project only extends about three or four years. 

“After that, they make [business] decisions based on the market,” he said. 

The guv met with leaders of the Taiwanese tech company in mid-September during a trade mission to Japan organized by WEDC. He says they confirmed Foxconn’s plans to build a manufacturing site in the Racine area that will produce smaller screens than originally proposed with a less labor-intensive operation. 

“I feel that it is going to be open sometime in the near future,” Evers said. “I think the people of Wisconsin get it, that it’s not going to look like it originally was planned. It’s as simple as that, and they have made that clear.” 

On the possibility of altering the deal between the state and Foxconn, he said “we’ll take a look at that.” 

“They asked for that at one point in time, and so there’s some ideas percolating around. But there’s nothing set on how that will play out,” Evers said. 

Foxconn representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Also at the luncheon, Evers explained his decision to appoint Missy Hughes as the new CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., noting her background with Organic Valley demonstrates her leadership capabilities. 

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— New numbers from the Wisconsin Policy Forum show equalized property values in the state grew 5.7 percent in 2019. 

The nonpartisan research group says that growth plus “modest increases” in local tax levies helped drive down property tax rates over the past five years.  

Gross property tax levies for the 2019 tax year increased 1.7 percent statewide. According to WPF, because the growth in values last year exceeded the growth in levies established in 2018, the statewide gross property tax rate decreased 2.7 percent. 

WPF’s report shows property values in Dane County increased 7.6 percent in 2019, above the state’s overall growth of 5.7 percent. The county’s aggregate property tax levy increased by 2.7 percent and the aggregate property tax rate decreased 3.9 percent. 

Meanwhile, the aggregate gross tax rate declined for the fifth year straight in the seven counties in southeast Wisconsin: Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Walworth, Racine, Milwaukee and Kenosha. The region’s property values increased in 2019 for the sixth consecutive year, and this year’s 5.6 percent growth rate was the highest it’s been in a decade. 

Each of those counties in the southeast region had increased property values. 

See the report: 

— The state Department of Veterans Affairs is consolidating skilled nursing operations at King Veterans Home, according to a recent release. 

The facility is located on Rainbow Lake in Waupaca County and currently has four individually licensed skilled-nursing buildings. The release shows WDVA will be shifting operations to just three of the buildings over the next several months. 

The state Department of Health Services conducted 90 investigations at the facility between 2012 and 2016, a report from the Legislative Audit Bureau found near the end of August. The agency found 40 of the 90 investigations substantiated allegations of resident abuse and quality of care issues. 

“Ensuring the safety and comfort of our members by providing high-quality skilled nursing care is of utmost importance,” WDVA Secretary-designee Mary Kolar said in the release. “Consolidating operations will enable our dedicated staff to continue to deliver top-rated skilled nursing care in a more efficient manner. 

See the release: 

— State lawmakers are backing a bipartisan bill to create a lifetime fishing licence in Wisconsin. 

The bill is being circulated for co-sponsorship by: Reps. Don Vruwink, D-Milton, and Ron Tusler, R-Harrison; and Sens. Pat Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville. 

“For many young men and women, fishing is in their blood,” Vruwink said. “A lifetime license is a good investment, because it will lock in today’s annual fee for 30 years and after that no new license will be required.” 

According to a release, the bill would create a resident lifetime fishing license costing $577.50. 

The bill’s authors say at least 22 other states have some form of lifetime license anglers, including Midwest neighbors such as Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. Other such license range in price between $171 and $1,976, the release shows. 

Resident fishing licenses bring in more than $13 million in revenue for the state’s conservation fund, which funds fish and wildlife management projects under the DNR. 

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— The Wisconsin Hospital Association is backing an amendment to legislation aimed at protecting health care workers. 

A release from WHA shows the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety recently modified the bill to cover more types of workers. Originally, the bill would have increased the penalty for assaulting nurses in any health care setting. Under the amendment authored by Sen. Andre Jacques, R-De Pere, the bill would include all licensed health professionals while they’re at work. 

“Discouraging violent behavior helps to protect hospital staff who deliver this top-quality care to anyone who comes through a hospital’s doors,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA president and CEO. 

See the release: 

— Less than three months after signing a budget that added 517 state positions, Gov. Tony Evers is seeking permission from the Joint Finance Committee to add 55 more full-time equivalents. 

The requests from six agencies would add new employees to expand debt collection efforts, help consumers navigate Obamacare and address the expanded workload to enforce alcohol laws. 

Of the new request, almost half were already proposed in the budget only to see the Republican-led JFC reject them. 

See more at 


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