FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater; February home sales down 28 percent, WRA report shows

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Chad Bauman, executive director of Milwaukee Repertory Theater. 

Bauman discusses Milwaukee Rep’s ongoing fundraising campaign, Powering Milwaukee, that aims to raise $75 million to develop a new theater complex. Next year will mark the group’s 70th anniversary, and Bauman says it’s in dire need of an updated home. 

“It all started with a scary event — our freight elevator caught on fire in 2018, and the building itself is nearly 40 years old,” he said. “We knew it was aging, but it also started to become dangerous.” 

Along with the safety concerns, he explained the facility’s aging technology makes it difficult to compete with modern theaters in terms of production capability. 

“Every system that we have basically needs to be replaced … We’re in a talent-based business, and to attract the best talent across the state and across the country, we have to have a facility that can support world-class theater,” he said. 

Milwaukee Rep has raised $45 million over the past 14 months, and hopes to hit $60 million by the end of June and begin construction in 2024. 

“We’re living on borrowed time with this building,” Bauman said. “At any given time, we could see a catastrophic building failure, and if that were to happen, it could either severely injure somebody or it could also shut down our operations for months and months. So this is really a project we have to get done, and we have to get done quickly.” 

Along with the fundraising campaign, Bauman also highlights Milwaukee Rep’s goals around supporting arts and culture in Wisconsin, boosting arts education, and driving economic impact in downtown Milwaukee and beyond. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See more on the fundraising campaign:  

See a full list of podcasts: 

— Wisconsin home sales last month were down more than 28 percent compared to the previous February, according to the latest Wisconsin Realtors Association report. 

A total of 3,184 homes were sold in February, versus 4,431 in February 2022, the WRA report shows.

At the same time, the total number of statewide listings fell 17.2 percent over the year, from 15,194 to 12,582. That lower inventory level is driving the decline in sales, WRA notes, along with higher prices. 

The report shows the median home price in Wisconsin rose 11.7 percent over the year, from $235,000 in February 2022 to $262,500 last month. 

Joe Horning, this year’s chair for the WRA Board of Directors, says home affordability in the state “has certainly fallen” with both prices and mortgage rates on the rise. 

“However, buyer interest remains high, especially among first-time buyers in the millennial and gen-Z generations,” he said in the report. “We’re still seeing multiple offers at or above asking price, and as a result, homes are moving quickly.” 

See the release: 

See the full report: 

— Wisconsin’s unemployment rate hit a new record low of 2.7 percent in February, while private sector jobs reached a record high of nearly 2.6 million. 

That’s according to the latest federal figures released by the state Department of Workforce Development. 

In a virtual briefing yesterday, DWD Chief Economist Dennis Winters said Wisconsin’s nonfarm job total has now exceeded the pre-pandemic peak, reaching 2,997,400 in February. At the same time, total private sector jobs reached 2,594,700 last month. Both are record-high totals for the state, he noted. 

Plus, the number of unemployed Wisconsinites hit a record low of 82,900 in February, he said. 

“All in all, it’s a pretty good month on the workforce side of things,” Winters said. 

Meanwhile, February’s unemployment rate of 2.7 percent is down from January’s revised rate of 2.9 percent. The previous record low of 2.8 percent was last seen in spring 2022, according to the DWD release. 

The state’s labor force participation rate was unchanged over the month at 64.5 percent, and remains above the U.S. rate of 62.5 percent. 

See the release:

— Wisconsinites would see a net increase in taxes and fees of more than $108 million under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Meanwhile, measures to improve tax collection efforts would generate another $34.1 million.

The memo shows the nearly $1.5 billion in tax reductions in his budget, including a 10 percent break for the middle class, would be overshadowed by proposed tax increases on manufacturers and investors.

The biggest tax break proposed by Evers is his middle-class tax cut. For those who qualify, it would cut those taxpayers’ adjusted net tax liability by 10 percent, saving them nearly $840 million over the two-year budget.

The second-largest reduction, according to the LFB memo, is the $195 million taxpayers would save through a new individual income tax credit for family caregivers.

The biggest increase would result from the guv’s proposal to cap a tax break for manufacturers. That would limit the manufacturing and ag credit to the first $300,000 in income for manufacturers, resulting in a $655.1 million tax increase.

The other big hikes would come from updating state tax codes to match provisions in a 2017 federal tax package. That would result in a $387.2 million tax increase.

And limiting the capital gains exclusion would generate an additional $339.4 million.

The LFB’s projection of the fiscal impact from the proposed tax hikes and cuts are largely identical to what the Evers administration had released when it unveiled his plan.

— The LFB memo also breaks down the fiscal impact of Evers’ call to legalize marijuana.

It would result in $44 million in excise taxes on marijuana producers and retailers. The state would refund $2.2 million to Native American tribes for enforcing marijuana regulations and to refund the excise taxes on what’s sold on tribal land.

Meanwhile, the state would expect to take in $10.2 million in sales taxes on marijuana sales.

Additionally, DATCP would collect $467,500 in fees from permits for producing or processing marijuana, and Revenue would collect another $1.4 million from permitting producers, processors, distributors and retailers.

See the memo: 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report… </b></i> 

— UW-Madison researchers have found sustained meditation and other cognitive exercises helped improve various measures of mental health for graduate students. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i> 

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# Industrial and wastewater facilities may soon find it easier to work with farms to reduce water pollution

# Former rocket scientist launches Stellar Tech Girls summer camps

# ‘No cream puffs for anybody.’ State Building Commission deadlocks on Evers’ entire capital budget.



– World Dairy Expo announces global dairy leaders to be honored 


– Summerfest hospitality spot naming rights go to J. Jeffers & Co.

– Lake Monona designs draw ‘record’ response, with one day left


– Republicans reject UW-La Crosse science building, other UW, state building projects


– Discoveries result in new funding to protect bats from fungal epidemic 

– Cooler temperatures, lingering snow raises risk of flooding along Mississippi River, other waterways


– Northwestern Mutual names new chief insurance officer


– Former marketing agency exec gets 22 months in $2.7M embezzlement case

– Kohler Co. sues Amazon sellers for trademark infringement


– Johnson Controls plans new Glendale building in ongoing move from downtown Milwaukee


– Republic of Letters bookstore to open in Mineral Point


– Milwaukee Public Museum unveils “Wisconsin Journey” gallery sketches ahead of new museum construction

– Indoor fun park with 24-foot-tall slides coming to Wauwatosa

– ‘Wisconsin Journey’ gallery at future MPM to showcase state’s natural, cultural wonders


– Yes, heat pumps can withstand Wisconsin winters, heating and cooling specialist says


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