These Capitol employees had their hands full this week setting up the State Capitol Christmas Tree! This year's tree is a 40-foot tall balsam fir provided by Brad and Elizabeth Kowieski of Rhinelander. Brad planted the tree in his parents' backyard on Arbor Day in 1985, when he was in 4th grade. Now, three decades later, that same tree is decorated with more than a thousand handmade ornaments crafted by Wisconsin schoolchildren. The official tree lighting ceremony is tomorrow; I'll be sure to share a photo of the final product in my next newsletter.
As 2015 comes to a close, I am very encouraged by the latest Wisconsin jobs report. The state added more than 15,000 private-sector jobs in October, which is the best one-month jump since 1992. The unemployment rate remains steady at 4.3 percent, the lowest it has been in 14 years and well under the national average of 5 percent. Our economy is recovering, but tens of thousands of unfilled jobs remain available at JobCenterofWisconsin.com. We need to keep up our efforts to ensure that businesses have access to the workers they need and that everyone who wants a job can find one.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on your weekend!
Your Government Working for You
Deadline approaching! There is still time for dairy farmers to apply for the next round of Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 producer grants. These are flexible state grants designed to enable farmers to facilitate operational changes, improve profitability and increase efficiency. Recipients can be awarded up to $5,000 as long as they are willing to pay a cost share of 20 percent of the total grant amount. Grant applications are due to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) by December 18, 2015. Click here for application instructions or contact Angie Sullivan with your questions at (855) 943-2479 or Angie.Sullivan@wisconsin.gov. These grants are just one service provided by the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Team; DATCP can help year-round to connect farmers with other resources.
Property tax credits. Many local governments have begun mailing annual property tax statements; payments are typically due no later than January 31st. Wisconsin offers three types of property tax credits that can reduce the amount you owe. The Lottery and Gaming Credit reduces taxes on your primary residence; the First Dollar Credit is available on all property with a real property improvement; and the School Levy Tax Credit is applied to every taxable property. These three credits should be applied automatically (if you are eligible) and shown on your tax statement. If you believe that you should have been eligible for one of these credits but it did not appear on your tax statement, contact your local (city or county) treasurer for assistance. Or click here to access the Department of Revenue's 2015 Guide for Property Owners.
Fundraising with nVestWisconsin
This week, the Wisconsin Bankers Association and Crowdfund i94 announced the creation of a new fundraising resource for Wisconsin called nVestWisconsin, one of the state's first crowdfunding websites to support local nonprofits, businesses and projects. Several nonprofit organizations are already using the website to conduct 30-day fundraising campaigns to meet specific goals. In late 2013, Governor Scott Walker signed a law allowing crowdfunding to operate in Wisconsin, and as this new resource grows, it will provide Wisconsin consumers and businesses an avenue for alternative sources of capital.
The donation side of the website is the first of two branches to launch under the nVestWisconsin name; an investment side of the website is coming soon, which will enable users to invest directly in local businesses. Supporting your community is not a one-size-fits-all activity, and this resource is intended to provide users with options to give in whatever manner they choose or truly own a piece of something good in their home state. Visit the website to try it for yourself or to launch your own fundraising project!
Holiday Tours of the Executive Residence
Governor Scott Walker invites the public to tour the Executive Residence in Madison. Holiday tours allow guests to view the Executive Residence's unique decorations found throughout the main rooms on the first floor, crafted by designers from across the state. The public is welcome from noon until 2:00 PM on Thursday 12/3, Friday 12/4, Wednesday 12/9 and Thursday 12/10 or from 9:00 AM until noon on Saturday 12/5 and Saturday 12/12.
Tours are free of charge; cameras are allowed. Parties of 20 or more are asked to make a reservation by calling (608) 246-5501. Parking is available directly outside the residence gates; the residence is handicapped accessible, and handicapped parking is available upon request at the time of arrival. Gently-used winter clothing such as coats, hats, sweaters and mittens as well as nonperishable food items are happily accepted at the residence before and after the tours and will be donated to those in need. The Executive Residence is located at 99 Cambridge Road on Madison's northeast side in the Village of Maple Bluff; driving directions are available here.