— Republican lawmakers are touting a bill that would allow dental therapists to practice in Wisconsin as a fix to the state’s dental care shortage.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mary Felzkowski, says Wisconsin is ranked 45th out of U.S. states for pediatric oral health care. And with 64 of the state’s 72 counties facing dental care shortages for patients of all ages, she said the situation is approaching crisis level.
“It’s an important issue that affects all aspects of our state,” the Irma Republican said yesterday on a conference call with reporters. “Hopefully we can get something done.”
The Assembly Committee on Medicaid Reform and Oversight will hold a public hearing on the bill today. AB 81 would allow dental therapists to practice in the state “under the general supervision of a dentist with whom the dental therapist has a collaborative management agreement.” It would also allow the establishment of dental therapy schools.
“I really like this bill for many reasons,” said Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield. “When you look at dental care providers in Wisconsin, you’re boxed in.”
He noted more dentists are actively leaving the state than arriving, and the state’s only dental school in Milwaukee is at capacity with no imminent plans to expand. As the state’s population of dentists grows older, he says existing providers won’t be able to increase their hours, leaving many state residents with few options for care.
Dental therapists are analogous to physician assistants in the field of medicine, and as such, must work under the direct supervision of dentists.
In other states where dental therapists are authorized, Kooyenga says the quality of care hasn’t suffered. And even though the profession doesn’t require as much education as being a dentist, he says “having someone provide dental care is better than no one providing dental care.”
The legislative push for dental therapists faces opposition from the Wisconsin Dental Association as well as Marquette University, which has the state’s only dental school. Felzkowski says the bill’s supporters have reached out numerous times to WDA, but the group remains against the idea.
— WEDC policies continue to allow the awarding of tax credits to Foxconn for employees working outside of Wisconsin despite a vow last year to make changes ensuring that wouldn’t happen, according to a new Legislative Audit Bureau report.
But Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Missy Hughes insists the agency has already “explicitly disqualified any employee who did not perform services in Wisconsin” and has made other changes that LAB recommended in an audit last year.
The agency and LAB also disagree on other details of how the credits should be determined, prompting a rare rebuttal from state Auditor Joe Chrisman to Hughes’ response to the audit.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. made changes earlier this year to its written procedures for the tax credits after a 2018 audit. That LAB report found the agency’s policies allowed rewarding the company for paying employees not living in Wisconsin who were designated as “remote,” working from home or in sales so long as they were paid for work in the manufacturing zone around the company site in southeastern Wisconsin.
But the audit found those changes still leave the door open to paying credits for services performed outside Wisconsin. That’s because they fail to reference state statutes stipulating WEDC may not certify credits for services performed outside Wisconsin. Instead, they reference provisions in state statutes and administrative rules that define a corporation’s payroll. That definition includes wages paid for services performed outside of Wisconsin.
The audit recommends changing those written procedures to explicitly require the awarding of credits only for wages paid to employees for services performed in Wisconsin.
The audit comes on the heels of documents showing the Evers administration doesn’t believe Foxconn currently qualifies for state tax credits, because the scope of the project has changed significantly compared to what was first envisioned when the contract was signed under former Gov. Scott Walker.
The project was originally slated to be a Gen 10.5 manufacturing facility producing thin glass screens the size of garage doors. It has since been scaled back to a Gen 6 factory, which produces smaller screens.
Under the state contract, the company is eligible for tax credits both for jobs created and capital investments. The job credits are restricted to jobs paying at least $30,000 annually that also offer benefits such as health care.
In 2018, the first year it was eligible for the jobs credits, Foxconn created 113 jobs. That was short of the minimum 260 needed to qualify for the credits, which equal 17 percent of wages. The credits are capped at $100,000 in salary for an employee.
The audit also found while no tax credits were awarded for 2018, WEDC failed to comply with its contract when it calculated wages that Foxconn paid in 2018 and that were eligible for tax credits. But Hughes wrote in her response the agency believes LAB is taking “an exceedingly narrow interpretation of the contract language” that would result in an overpayment of tax credits.
The subjects of LAB reviews often submit a response to the audit that is included in the report. But Chrisman also included in the report a rebuttal to Hughes’ response that hits on four points related to the job credits.
Chrisman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why the rebuttal was included in yesterday’s report.
Read the report: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/media/2951/19-27full.pdf
— Foxconn’s Director of United States Strategic Initiatives, Alan Yeung, has informed state officials the company has been unable to find sufficient talent for its manufacturing project in Wisconsin.
In a letter to Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, Yeung said the state’s recent announcement that the facility isn’t certified and won’t qualify for tax credits was met with “great surprise and disappointment.”
He says the company strongly disagrees with the decision. And he said letters sent to the company by the administration between April and November represent a pattern “of inaccurately portraying Foxconn’s statements and positions relative to the WEDC Contract.”
Despite traveling “from North Carolina, to Illinois, to Michigan, to Ohio and Kentucky,” Yeung said Foxconn has “encountered great difficulties in recruiting the talents we need for our development.”
Yeung says the company’s efforts in Wisconsin are being held back by the administration’s “red herrings” over terms of the contract.
“Distractions like these leave job creators and job seekers wondering if doing business in our great state is welcomed by Governor Evers’ Administration,” he said.
See more below in Foxconn Reports.
— Executives from Milwaukee Tool and Evers administration officials have announced the company will continue expanding in the state with a new Menomonee Falls campus.
The manufacturer plans to create 870 new jobs in the state by 2025 as part of the new expansion. Milwaukee Tool plans to invest more than $100 million on the Menomonee Falls campus, and will also invest $7.5 million to expand its Imperial Blades subsidiary in Sun Prairie.
WEDC and Milwaukee Tool first struck a deal in 2016 related to an expansion of the company’s Brookfield headquarters. The state created an Enterprise Zone to support the project and the company pledged to create 592 jobs in order to receive $18 million in tax credits over a five-year period.
The contract was later amended to provide an additional $8 million in tax credits if Milwaukee Tool created 350 more jobs. And a third amendment to the contract this year provides $20 million more in credits for the 870 new promised jobs.
According to WEDC, Milwaukee Tool has pledged to create 1,812 new jobs and invest $174.5 million in the state since 2016. If the company meets those goals, the state will provide up to $46 million in tax incentives.
— A Madison-based startup called RehabPath recently received a $200,000 investment from Shree Kalluri, an entrepreneur heading up another Madison startup called Zerology.
RehabPath provides independent addiction treatment information through an online platform, guiding users through the process of finding and selecting treatment centers or other resources.
Along with the seed investment, Kalluri is joining RehabPath’s board of directors and will provide strategic direction based on decades of experience in the health care technology space. According to RehabPath’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Camp, Kalluri is set to take an active role in 2020.
Camp says the connection with Kalluri was made at StartingBlock Madison, a coworking space and entrepreneurial hub where they both work.
“Shree told me the reason he’s investing is because he believes in our team, and he believes in the vision,” Camp told WisBusiness.com. “He’s really excited about what we’re trying to do, and he sees the opportunity there.”
Listen to an earlier podcast with Kalluri: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-shree-kalluri-founder-and-ceo-of-zerology/
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and 10 other senators are calling on Purdue Pharma’s board of directors to cancel a reported $1.3 million bonus for company CEO Craig Landau.
Attorneys General from 24 states including Wisconsin have decried the move to give Landau the bonus while the company is undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a letter to the company, the senators note Landau is named in multiple lawsuits alleging he was personally responsible for the company’s opioid marketing campaign.
“Further, the payment is based on aggressive performance incentives similar to those used to encourage opioid sales,” they wrote.
# Milwaukee Tool’s rapid growth spreads to Menomonee Falls with planned $100 million investment
# SSM Health details proposed $75 million, 5-story clinic on Fish Hatchery Road
# One-year extension to craft beverage tax break part of legislative package
# Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway ‘flips the switch’ on Madison’s largest solar energy project
– USDA to gauge economics of 1,500 Wisconsin farms
– DATCP looks back at 2019 crop year
– Wisconsin home sales see slight drop in November
– American Family donation to bring ‘STEAM & Dream’ program to Sherman Phoenix
– Local education organizations receive funding boost from Bradley Foundation
– Wisconsin Cattlemen accepting scholarship applications
# FOXCONN REPORTS
– Audit: Foxconn should not be awarded tax credits for work outside Wisconsin
– Audit faults plans to credit Foxconn for work outside state
– Foxconn says it can’t find enough workers for Wisconsin project
– Vos, Sheehy urge Gov. Evers to work through Foxconn disagreement
– Ganos receives 6.5-year sentence for contract fraud
– Milwaukee Tool plans $100 million Menomonee Falls campus, create 870 jobs
– Johnson Controls expands smart building footprint in Milwaukee: Q&A with CEO George Oliver
– Sun Prairie manufacturer to see expansion as part of larger state incentives deal
# REAL ESTATE
– Mequon industrial building acquired by Texas investor for $10.5 million
– Bradley Foundation sells Lion House, two other East Side mansions for $2 million
– Anytime Fitness expands Sussex location
– ‘Something Special from Wisconsin’ apparel available for purchase
– Bucks strike partnership deal with Captain Morgan
– Chicago-based tech consultant to open Milwaukee office
– Travel Leaders acquires West Allis travel agency
– Spencer Black: Reports highlight the importance of Wisconsin’s knowledge economy
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: