MON AM News: Report explores homeownership disparities in Wisconsin; Talking Trade with Paul Castaneda Dower, UW-Madison

— Racial disparities in homeownership are larger in Wisconsin than nationwide and have worsened over the past decade, a recent Wisconsin Policy Forum report shows. 

The report found this trend exists in the state’s five most populous cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine — as well as statewide. It focuses on homeownership rates for white, Black and Hispanic residents, noting 74 percent of Black state residents and 44 percent of Hispanic residents live in one of those five cities. 

In 2019, the owner-occupancy rate for white Wisconsinites was 72 percent, compared to 40.9 percent for Hispanic residents and 25.5 percent for Black residents. The statewide gap between Black and white residents of 47 percent is well above the national gap of 30 percent. And the gap between white and Hispanic residents, 31 percent, is also larger than the national gap of 25 percent. 

“While undoubtedly not the only factor, lower household incomes for Black and Hispanic households in Wisconsin likely contribute to this trend,” report authors wrote. 

The median household income for non-Hispanic white households is 6 percent lower in Wisconsin than nationally, the report shows. But that number is 11 percent for Hispanic households and 25 percent for Black households. 

The WPF report builds on a previous analysis focused on Milwaukee, finding the disparities in the other four cities are greater than that of the state’s largest city. 

While report authors note both the private and public sector are working on ways to address this issue, they found it’s been getting worse between 2010 and 2019. Over that timeframe, the homeownership declined 1.4 percent for white residents, 3.4 percent for Hispanic residents and 7.3 percent for Black residents. 

The report points to ripple effects from the 2007-2010 “financial and foreclosure crisis” and associated economic recession as a major factor, noting it led to lower rates of homeownership, building and purchasing activity for years afterward. 

Report authors say information on the pandemic’s impact on these trends is not yet available. But they expect rising home prices between 2019 and 2021 “may be exacerbating existing racial disparities by putting homeownership out of reach for more Black and Hispanic households.” 

See the full report: 

— In the latest episode of “Talking Trade,” a UW-Madison economist and expert on Russia provides insight into the evolving conflict with Ukraine. 

Paul Castaneda Dower is an assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics at the university and is involved with UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Russia Project. He offers his perspective on the rationale behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as how it could impact global trade. 

“Precisely because Ukraine is so close to Russia … economically, culturally, historically, politically, all these things, because they’re so close, if Ukraine is able to successfully integrate with the west and democratize in a successful way, this means that it can be done in Russia too,” he said. “That’s very problematic for Putin’s worldview.” 

Aside from the predicted rise in fuel costs, Dower notes Russia and Ukraine combined produce a fourth of the world’s wheat and a fifth of the world’s corn. And Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower seed oil. 

“So obviously this is going to have huge effects across the globe,” he said. “With the pandemic’s disruption of the global supply chains, this is going to be an additional, kind of perfect storm if you will, to impact global prices.” 

Watch the show here: 

— Total assets at state-chartered banks in Wisconsin increased by 4.2 billion last year to reach $68 billion at the end of 2021, a report from the state Department of Financial Institutions shows. 

“Overall, the year-end financial indicators for Wisconsin’s state-chartered banks are strong and show our banks are financially stable with a positive outlook,” DFI Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins said in a statement. 

Over the same period, net operating income at these 132 banks increased from $778.9 million to $847.3 million. 

And net loans increased by $153 million over the year to reach $43.6 billion at the end of 2021, the report shows.

See the release: 

— The state’s Focus on Energy program says operational changes at schools in Wisconsin during the pandemic led to an additional $5.62 million in utility costs. 

A recent report from the program shows schools in the state saw an average increase of 10 percent in natural gas usage and 0.4 percent in electric usage due to pandemic changes. 

Many schools in the state implemented pandemic guidance from the CDC aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. These included: opening windows and doors to improve outdoor air circulation, using fans to increase that effect, rebalancing HVAC systems to increase total air flow, running HVAC systems at maximum outside airflow before and after spaces were occupied, as well as other measures. 

“While these strategies may be effective at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and maintaining a comfortable learning environment, these changes have unintended impacts on the building’s energy usage,” report authors wrote. 

The report includes energy savings strategies such as quantifying budget impacts of these changes, recording changes to building control settings, evaluating how other systems are impacted by the changes, performing a tune-up on the building and installing high-efficiency systems. 

“Reviewing energy bills from a normal year to determine the building’s baseline energy use is a great way to be prepared,” Heather Feigum, program manager with Focus on Energy, said in a release. “If you are aware of these COVID-related operational increases, then you can budget and react accordingly.”

Focus on Energy helps support installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. 

See the report here: 

— If the up to $6 billion Purdue Pharma opioid settlement is approved, the state is expected to receive at least $65 million, though the exact dollar amount is uncertain. 

That’s according to a state Department of Justice spokeswoman, who said any funding Wisconsin gets will be allocated to the Department of Health Services and local governments and spent on opioid abatement programs. 

The deal was announced last week, but DOJ Deputy Communications Director Samantha Standley said the timeline for any funding is “uncertain given the pending court proceedings.” 

In an email, she explained Wisconsin last summer was part of the announcement of a proposed resolution in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case that would have provided about $4.5 billion in settlement funds to states. 

But a group of states, not including Wisconsin, challenged the plan. It was overturned in December and the ruling is now on appeal, Standley said. Meanwhile, the appealing states and the Sackler family — who founded and own Purdue Pharma — negotiated another $1 billion or so in funds. 

The latest Purdue settlement announcement came about a week after the state DOJ announced Wisconsin will be getting over $400 million as part of a separate $26 billion opioid agreement with Johnson & Johnson and major drug distributors. 

— Under the latest CDC guidelines, residents in just eight Wisconsin counties are recommended to wear masks in public indoor settings. 

Barron, Rusk, Iron, Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Racine and Kenosha counties are in the “high” category for community levels of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, Bayfield, Buffalo, Taylor, Clark, Lincoln, Marathon, Wood and Menominee counties are in the “medium” category, and the rest of the state is in the “low” category. 

The CDC’s community levels metric captures new COVID-19 hospital admissions, staffed inpatient beds occupied by these patients, and total new cases. DHS said it’s backing the new guidance from the federal agency as tools including vaccines, boosters, testing and treatments have ushered in a new phase of the pandemic. 

See the CDC map of community levels across the country: 

See more details on the community levels metric: 

— Brown County was OK to use its new sales tax to pay for capital projects as well as lowering property taxes, the state Supreme Court has ruled. 

The Brown County Taxpayers Association challenged the 0.5 percent sales tax, which the County Board approved in 2017 for a six-year period. The group argued the county sales tax should only be used for a dollar-for-dollar reduction of property taxes.

But the court ruled 5-2 Friday the county was free to use the money to cover $147 million in projects such as work at an expo hall, infrastructure and a library, among other things. 

The majority noted Brown County argued it would’ve otherwise been forced to borrow to cover the projects. That would’ve increased its debt load and then passed on additional costs to taxpayers. 

“Indeed, an identical reduction in the property tax levy can be accomplished from a dollar-for-dollar offset as can be attained by budgeting specific items, which otherwise would have been paid for from property tax revenue, to be funded with a sales and use tax,” the majority wrote. “Either way, the purpose of directly reducing the property tax levy is accomplished.”

See more in the Friday Report: 


# Growing number of Wisconsin companies stop doing business in Russia, express support for Ukraine

# Versiti plans new building to accommodate more than 100 new jobs on Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus

# ‘See ya next time’: How a neighborhood grocery store grew into today’s Kwik Trip phenomenon



– New beer label raises money for Ukraine by taking pointed and profane aim at Putin


– Wisconsin dominates World Championship Cheese Contest

– Familiar formula from Switzerland named world’s best cheese


– Marquette announces plan for $80M overhaul of recreation center, addition of wellness hub 


– UW-Madison extends program to pay tuition for future teachers

– Milwaukee Academy of Science celebrates completion of $1.7 million gym


– Johnson, Baldwin move to end wolf protections

– Q&A: Limnologist Hilary Dugan warns of warming Madison lakes

– New name, same destructive habits: Meet the Spongy Moth


– Jud Snyder named BMO Wealth Management regional president of northern states


– Fat Pat’s expands from barbecue into its own brews


– ‘The consequences are so dire’: More babies are being born with syphilis in Wisconsin


– Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Brown County sales tax


– Greater Milwaukee Foundation goes public with $700 million philanthropic campaign


– Wisconsin groups offer new ‘cookbook’ to spur affordable housing

– Silver Lake home sold for $3.25 million


– Retailers in Wisconsin are dropping Russian vodka brands in support of Ukraine

– Activist investor poses 7 questions for Kohl’s ahead of investor day

– Macellum “remains skeptical” of Kohl’s outlook following company’s 2021 earnings report


– Find out who are Wisconsin’s highest-paid professional athletes


– DOT: As spring thaw begins, frozen road coverage shrinks


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