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In This Edition:

The Good The Bad & The Ugly: Last night at 11, the Assembly finally voted on our state budget. For the...

Beer With Scott: This past spring, Rep. Allen experimented with a new format when listening to...

The Foxconn Opportunity: Risk is inherent in business, and much of the debate I have heard over the...

Veteran Entrepreneurs Program: The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) is...

Constituent Helps WHEDA Correct Veterans Issue: Last month my office was contacted by a constituent who was looking into a Wisconsin Housing...

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
(I voted no. Here's why.)

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Last night at 11, the Assembly finally voted on our state budget. For the most part, this was a good budget, and I wanted to vote yes. Here’s a list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and ultimately why I voted no.  

THE GOOD

Eliminating Taxes: Eliminating the Forestry Mill Tax, and much of the Personal Property Tax, including taxes on machinery and tools, was also eliminated.

Historic Tax Credits: The Credit is one of few that actually results in a net tax increase to the state. Budget language now includes a $5 million per parcel cap.  That means that more projects will qualify for the tax credit, leading to greater economic development statewide.

Right to Rent: Right to rent reasserts the rights of homeowners while still providing local regulatory control.

Education: The budget awarded $23 million more in aid to low-spending school districts who have been fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.  The budget also expands access to School Choice Programs by increasing the family income threshold to 220% of the federal poverty limit.

THE BAD

I-94 East-West Corridor: The project was not enumerated.

No Long-Term Transportation Solution.

Tax Code: Added sales tax exemptions make our tax code fundamentally less fair.

Education: An expansion of special interest, categorical aids under public instruction.  This makes school funding even more complicated, and perhaps less fair. 

THE UGLY: (Why I voted “no.”)

One obscure provision of the budget has been largely undetected by the public or by legislators.  It has gained no attention, no debate, and no public scrutiny.  It is yet another example of the need for budget transparency (see AB 448).

While most local units of government that issue tax-exempt bonds do so for the benefit of their local community, the Public Finance Authority (PFA) issues bonds for projects throughout the United States and, potentially, internationally.  In fact, since its creation in 2010, only 5.9% of the bonds it has issued were for projects located in Wisconsin.  And since 2010, only 2 of the 14 Wisconsin projects funded by bonds issued by the PFA were within the boundaries of the six founding local units of government that cooperated to create the Authority.  Why would a local economic development authority focus only 8/10ths of 1% of its efforts in its own local jurisdiction?

If there is value in the Public Finance Authority, then it is appropriate that we examine it carefully in the context of experience and we revisit the mission to ensure benefits to the citizens of Wisconsin.  We should not be broadening its powers until its results and processes are examined.  I ask the Speaker and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to order an audit of the PFA.

I voted no on an otherwise good budget because good government is more important than a good budget.

Beer With Scott Kick Off 

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This past spring, Rep. Allen experimented with a new format when listening to constituents called “Coffee with Scott.” These were pre-scheduled, one-on-one, ten-minute meetings with Rep. Allen to encourage interaction, and help constituents feel more at ease discussing their concerns about state government.

After the success with “Coffee with Scott,” Rep. Allen is excited to announce “Beer with Scott,” to take place on Thursdays this fall before Thursday night football. The first ever “Beer with Scott” will be held on Thursday, September 28th from 5:30 to 6:30 P.M. just before the Packers/Bears game at Magellan’s On Main Street, 370 W. Main Street in downtown Waukesha. BYOB (Buy Your Own Beer).

Constituents interested in talking with Rep. Allen about their state government questions and concerns are asked to schedule a 10-minute time slot by contacting the office. Appointments will be made on a first-scheduled, first-served basis. To schedule a meeting, call 608-266-8580 or email Rep.Allen@legis.wi.gov!

 Magellan's Logo.jpgMagellan’s On Main Street

The Foxconn Opportunity

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Risk is inherent in business, and much of the debate I have heard over the past month revolved around the risk of investing $3 billion over the next 15 years.  Wisconsin is in the midst of experiencing an unprecedented demographics shift.  We are losing a significant portion of graduates to other states and nations.  The reality of our economy is that Wisconsin competes against other states and foreign nations for jobs.  The tax credits in this bill are sufficiently linked to the creation of family-supporting jobs and the impact to the state is mitigated by the credits being paid out over 15 years.  No business deal is without risk, but in light of competition and potential for impacting our state economy, bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin is a risk worth taking.

This will likely have a transformational effect for Wisconsin from the introduction of new technology and advanced manufacturing processes.  The true risk would be in failing to act on this opportunity.  Manufacturing this technology will lead to expanded growth and opportunity.  

Veteran Entrepreneurs Program

WI Veteran Owned Business Logo.PNGThe Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) is accepting grant applications from registered non-profit organizations that provide entrepreneurship training, or technical, business or other assistance to veteran entrepreneurs to improve employment outcomes. The Entrepreneurship Grant program includes a maximum total of up to $400,000 during the period of July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018. To qualify, non-profit organizations must be located in this state and registered and in good standing with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. Application materials and requirements for this grant are available online by clicking here.

Non-profit organizations interested in applying for this grant opportunity must submit their completed applications by Friday, September 29, 2017. Applications and questions about the grant application process should be directed to Chad McCafferty at 1-800-WIS-VETS or vetsbenefitsgrants@dva.wisconsin.gov.

Constituent Helps WHEDA Correct Veterans Issue

Last month my office was contacted by a constituent who was looking into a Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) loan program.  The constituent, a Realtor, knew that WHEDA will give a Veteran borrower a credit back each year.  However, when looking into the veteran eligibility criteria, they discovered it was only for discharged Veterans, not active duty because the underwriting required the veterans’ honorable discharge form DD214.

My office contacted WHEDA for clarification. WHEDA programs are required to follow the IRS Mortgage Revenue Bond requirements.  When the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 was passed, it allowed WHEDA to offer Veterans several exemptions from those requirements and additional benefits.

After looking into this issue, WHEDA discovered there is another form of discharge, which makes the Veteran eligible for the credit.  Some Veterans satisfactorily complete a period of active military obligation, but due to reenlistment, was not awarded a discharge or release from such period of service, but would otherwise be eligible for the award of a discharge or release under conditions other than dishonorable.  Documentation requirements under this situation would call for a copy of the borrower’s “Discharge Orders” and a copy of the “Reenlistment Contract.”

After realizing this oversight, WHEDA will be immediately updating their guidelines to clarify this additional option for those who reenlist.  I am so grateful for the constituent who brought this to our attention!  They helped Veterans across the State of Wisconsin, and helped me perform the most valuable and rewarding part of my job: serving you.

For more information on this particular WHEDA program you can read about it here.