WED AM News: DOR report connects declining homeownership and rising burden of housing costs; Evers pens letter to Hogan about renegotiating Foxconn contract

— A recent report from the state Department of Revenue draws a connection between declining homeownership and the rising burden of housing costs. 

Since 2004, the Wisconsin Economic Outlook report shows homeownership has been on a largely downward trend both in Wisconsin and nationwide. It shows that’s being driven in part by rental income making up a greater share of total personal income. 

Rental income in this case refers to income brought by landlords that aren’t corporations, otherwise known as monetary rent, as well as imputed rental income of homeowners — an estimate of the rent a house owner would be paying to live in his or her own home. That imputed rent represents about 70 percent of total rental income. 

According to DOR economist Romina Soria, rental income is a “good proxy” for housing costs, which grew faster than wages in the years following the Great Recession. 

“Thus, as rent consumes a larger share of personal income for low-income households, they have less disposable income for other spending or for saving toward a down payment,” said Soria, who works in DOR’s research and policy division. “These trends explain the decline in homeownership in Wisconsin and nationwide.”  

The report shows rental income makes up about 4 percent of all personal income, but its share of total personal income has doubled in the past decade or so. Between 2010 and 2017, rental income in the state increased by an annual average of 10 percent, nearly three times faster than growth in wages, which was 3.3 percent. 

During the same period, wages in Wisconsin grew an average of 1.8 percent, compared to 2.3 percent on the national level. 

See more: 

— Gov. Tony Evers wrote departing WEDC Chair and CEO Mark Hogan he hopes they’ll “work in unison” to meet the needs of taxpayers and Foxconn as possible changes to the company’s incentive package are considered. 

Evers sent the letter to Hogan after visiting the site of the plant in Racine County last month, his first time at the project. It reflects some of his past comments that the deal may need to be changed after the Taiwanese company scaled back initial plans to build large flat screens. 

Those past comments prompted blowback from GOP lawmakers who suggested the guv was trying to undermine the deal. 

In the letter, Evers wrote his administration is “committed to supporting Foxconn’s success in Wisconsin to bring manufacturing jobs to an area of the state that has struggled for many years.” He also again said the company approached the state earlier this year about revisiting the agreement.

A Foxconn spokesman said the company was aware of the letter but didn’t have an immediate comment. 

“Because the project has evolved substantially from what was originally proposed, evaluated, and contracted for, it is necessary to review the revised aspects of the project and evaluate how changes can most fairly benefit both the company and our state,” Evers wrote. “Proposed modifications to the Foxconn agreement or terms for a new agreement should be thoroughly and thoughtfully reviewed and assessed by the WEDC and my Administration.” 

As the company’s initial plans for the site have changed, it has repeatedly said it remained committed to its original promise of 13,000 jobs and an investment of up to $10 billion. Both were targets in the deal signed with the Walker administration. 

WEDC spokesman David Callender said the agency forwarded Evers’ letter to the full board. He said WEDC, the guv’s office and DOA have “routine discussions” with Foxconn. He also noted it is not uncommon for WEDC to amend contracts with companies during the lifetime of the deal. But he said the agency otherwise doesn’t comment on talks with a company before something would be presented to the board. 

Evers offered no specifics in his letter on possible changes but noted the company’s plans “reflect a substantially smaller footprint, less capital investment, and fewer manufacturing workers than its original plans.” Foxconn originally proposed what’s known as a Generation 10.5 facility capable of manufacturing screens the size of a garage door. It now plans a Generation 6 facility, which products LCD screens for TVs, cell phones and other devices. 

Evers wrote those who backed the “unprecedented incentive package” justified it with the company’s pledge to create the larger facility and bring manufacturing jobs to Racine County. But he wrote those plans have now changed. 

Last year, Foxconn fell short of the minimum number of employees required to qualify for tax credits related to job creation under the state’s nearly $3 billion incentive package. The company has said it plans to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2020, and local officials have said Foxconn indicated it plans to have 1,500 employees for the initial phase of manufacturing. 

Under its contract with the state, the company would need a minimum of 1,820 employees at the end of 2020 to qualify for tax credits tied to job creation. To qualify for the maximum tax credits under the contract, it would need 5,200 employees at the end of that year. 

— In the letter, Evers also praised Hogan, who announced he will leave the agency sometime this fall. 

“As you prepare for your departure from the WEDC this fall, you can be proud of the agency’s work and the committed team you built,” Evers wrote. “I look forward to our work together in your remaining weeks at the WEDC and appreciate the professionalism and dedication with which you have approached this role.” 

During the December extraordinary session, Republicans stripped the guv of the power to appoint the WEDC secretary and CEO until Sept. 1. 

Hogan hasn’t specified a date for his departure but has said he had planned to leave this fall even if Gov. Scott Walker had won re-election. 

Read the letter:

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill making it easier for patients to get prescription drugs when insurance companies require them to try cheaper options first, a process known as step therapy. 

The step therapy legislation, 2019 Wisconsin Act 12, was one of two health-related bills the guv signed yesterday at Hometown Pharmacy in Janesville. According to the Wisconsin Step Therapy Coalition, the new law creates exceptions in the step therapy process for certain patients, “eliminating frustrating and often painful delays.” 

The other bill, 2019 Wisconsin Act 13, removes a law provision that required distributors of in-home dialysis equipment to have a pharmacist license. 

“I’ve said all along that healthcare should not be a privilege afforded only to the healthy and the wealthy, and we have to continue doing everything we can to make sure that folks in all 72 counties can access the life-saving care they need and deserve without barrier or burden,” Evers said in a release. “I’m proud to sign these bipartisan bills into law today that are important steps in that direction.” 

Angie Thies, state government relations manager for the National Psoriasis Foundation and one of the leaders of the Wisconsin Step Therapy Coalition, says the law will protect thousands of people with serious medical conditions. 

According to a release from the group, Wisconsin’s Assembly and Senate both unanimously approved the legislation. With Evers’ signature, Wisconsin is the 27th state to enact a step therapy law. 

“The Governor and legislators agreed that making patients try-and-fail on multiple medications first before receiving what their doctor ordered was not only a bad insurer policy, but it removed the patient and doctor from the health decision,” Thies said. 

See the Evers release: 

See more: 

— Researchers at the Carbone Cancer Center in Madison are exploring how abnormal distribution of chromosomes during cell division can lead to various cancers. 

About 90 percent of solid tumors contain cells with an incorrect number of chromosomes, according to a release from UW-Madison. That’s because the normal growth process of cell division and chromosome copying can go wrong, causing chromosomes to be unevenly distributed across cells. Some of those new cells die, while others grow out of control, leading to cancer. 

“One of the big disappointments, and opportunities, is that we know all these other genes that are mutated in cancers, but no one has really found the smoking gun for how chromosome segregation goes wrong,” said Mark Burkard, a medical oncologist at UW-Madison. 

To better understand that process, he’s working with Beth Weaver, an associate professor of cell and regenerative biology, and Aussie Suzuki, an assistant professor of oncology. 

While Suzuki is studying the molecular interactions related to cell division in hopes of differentiating between cancerous and non-cancerous cells, Weaver and Burkard are conducting clinical trials, seeking to apply their research to improving chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. 

See a recent story on cancer research at Carbone: 

— A recent report from the conservative Wisconsin Family Council claims Wisconsin’s economy would be better off if marriage rates were higher. 

The 2019 edition of the Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators report includes a section arguing for the importance of traditional family structure to the state’s long-term economic success. But the report documents a significant decline in marriage rates over the past few decades. 

Wisconsin saw a 40 percent decline in new marriages between 1980 and 2013, and was ranked 46th out of U.S. states for its marriage rate in 2018. 

The Wisconsin Family Council says if the state’s share of married parents was the same in 2012 as it was in 1980, the child poverty rate would have been 18.78 percent, rather than 21.37 percent. 

Similarly, the group says the state’s GDP per capita would have been just under $47,000, rather than the actual value of $45,477 in 2012. And the group says median family income would have been over $52,000, compared to $48,940. 

The 84-page report also includes data on divorces, infant mortality rates, school enrollment, standardized testing scores, casino gambling, drinking and drug use among high schoolers, and much more. 

See the full report: 


# BrightStar expands portfolio with investments in three Wisconsin tech startups

# US Rep. Bryan Steil’s bill to help small business find investors gets a house vote

# Wisconsin’s largest landfill wants to expand again



– Farm Aid Festival to be held at Alpine Valley in September

– Willie Nelson brings Farm Aid 2019 to Wisconsin’s dairy land

– Hot & humid conditions aiding crop development


– Canadian Bank to acquire Milwaukee-based investment bank Cleary Gull


– Student fees, room and board at most campuses would increase in proposed UW System budget

– Field Day to focus on precision manure application technology

– Grabarski named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Ag Educator


– Great Lakes water levels continue surge; 2 set records


– Cleary Gull to be acquired by CIBC


– Two new bar-restaurants planned for Ugly’s building in Deer District


– Gov. Tony Evers tells CNBC Foxconn won’t meet future jobs goals


– Gov. Tony Evers signs drug step therapy bill


– Wisconsin saw fewer VC deals in 2018


– Actuant to sell division for $214.5 million


– GOP lawmakers propose limiting governor’s veto power


– Chenequa home sold for $2.4 million

– Wauwatosa considers two proposals for industrial projects for portion of former landfill site

– Mixed income apartment tower approved for downtown Milwaukee


– Madison Finance Committee strongly objects to plan for separate affordable units in JDS building

– Regulators decline to weigh in on gas plant’s likely effects on climate change


– Kohl’s gives $1 million to Junior Achievement of Wisconsin


– Bliss Flow Yoga vacating premises as owner declares bankruptcy


– Stakeholders: Frank Lloyd Wright’s World Heritage List designation is a triumph for Wisconsin


– Nikki Panico: To get breast cancer treatment or put food on the table?

– Margaret Krome: We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to support farmers in crisis


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Wisconsin Step Therapy Coalition: Gov. Evers signs bipartisan step therapy bill into law

Mitchell International Airport: Enroll in TSA Pre✓® at MKE for a limited time

Wisconsin Better Business Bureau: How to spot and stop robocalls

UW-Madison: Simply “smart” glass reveals the future of artificial vision