Daily Archives: February 8, 2019

AFL-CIO: Unions join together to challenge lame duck laws


Contact:  Karen Hickey, 414-574-7579, [email protected]

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, released the following statement on the lame duck special session lawsuit brought forth by Wisconsin unions.

“This week a coalition of unions filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the lame duck special session. The actions of the majority in power in the legislature and former Governor Scott Walker were not only a blatant undemocratic power grab, but also illegal.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO applauds the Wisconsin affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for standing up for all of us to uphold the will of the people.

Put simply, the politicians in Madison who conspired to nullify the results of the election by stripping power from the winners must be held accountable.”

Barnes says Foxconn needs to prove it will keep its promises


Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says several reports of Foxconn changing plans are “frustrating,” but that with investments already made he hopes the Taiwanese tech company creates the jobs it promised.

“Foxconn needs to prove, not just to us, they need to prove to everybody in the state of Wisconsin … that they are going to do the work they said they are going to do,” Barnes said at a luncheon hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com February 7. “So it’s very frustrating looking at them change course all of the time.”

Barnes was critical of Foxconn, saying the company has not kept promises in the past, but he challenged them to create the promised jobs in Wisconsin.

“Foxconn has traditionally not lived up to its promises, but I will say that since it is here in theory, I dare Foxconn to do the correct thing,” Barnes said. “I dare them to create jobs. I challenge them to do that, because, obviously, since it’s here we want things to work out as best as they can right now.”

Barnes’ comments follow news last week from an interview with a Foxconn executive that the company would be changing its focus away from manufacturing LCD screens at its Mount Pleasant site, and a disputed report from a Japanese publication that the project was on hold. Foxconn has since reaffirmed its plan to build a Generation 6 facility, which would produce smaller LCD screens than those originally envisioned when the state struck the $3 billion deal with the company.

Barnes noted the local infrastructure investments already made and how people in the area lost homes and farms to eminent domain for Foxconn to acquire land for the complex.

“We don’t need that to be all for naught,” he said. “We have to make sure that it is as beneficial a project as it can be.”

Barnes also addressed Evers’ promise on the campaign trail to reduce the state’s prison population.

He said the key to reducing the prison population is reducing recidivism.

“If we can curb recidivism in the state, the prison population will ultimately dwindle because the overwhelming majority of people in prison are not there for life,” Barnes said. He advocated more reentry program to ensure “people who are released have a pathway back into society.”

Barnes also said a lot of people are in prison for technical parole and probation revocations along with testing positive for marijuana, which Barnes said should be legalized.

Additionally, he said treatment should be a focus for non-violent offenders with mental health or substance abuse issues.

“The models are there,” Barnes said. “Other states are doing it, we’re just not there for whatever reason.”

Department of Health Services: March FoodShare benefits will be available March 1


Contact: Jennifer Miller/Elizabeth Goodsitt 608-266-1683

Other Wisconsin Food and Nutrition Programs Will Continue on Normal Schedule
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that funding for March FoodShare benefits is available. FoodShare members will see their benefits on their QUEST cards, and be able to use them, on March 1, 2019.

Due to the recent federal government shutdown, February FoodShare benefits were issued early to members, on January 20, 2019. DHS is adjusting the March benefit schedule to minimize the length of time between February and March benefit issuance dates. A normal benefit issuance schedule would result in members receiving their benefits between March 2 and 15. Members who typically receive their benefits on the 15th of the month would have waited 54 days between benefit issuances, which would put a strain on families.

The benefit amount on members’ QUEST cards on March 1, 2019, will be the normal amount FoodShare members receive for the month, so they should budget and plan accordingly.

View the entire news release.

Dept. of Justice: Man sentenced to federal prison for bankruptcy fraud



MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Teddy Stevens, 45, currently of Arizona but formerly of Middleton, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley to one year and one day in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud. Stevens pleaded guilty to the charge on November 7, 2018.

Stevens defrauded the bankruptcy court and his creditors by making false statements on his bankruptcy documents and by making false statements under oath at a bankruptcy hearing called the Meeting of Creditors. Through his conduct, Stevens was attempting to shield from the bankruptcy trustee certain real-estate related assets. At his Meeting of Creditors, Stevens provided a false address and falsely testified under oath that he had not sold, transferred, given away or otherwise disposed of any of his assets in the four years prior to filing. Stevens also convinced another individual to provide false information to the bankruptcy court in an effort to conceal his real interest in a residence.

In selecting a sentence of prison, Judge Conley noted that Stevens’s actions were calculated and egregious. Judge Conley also said that he wanted to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

The charges against Stevens were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also acknowledges the assistance of the Office of the United States Trustee in Madison, Wisconsin. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin.

DFI: Credit unions post growth in net income and lending for 2018


Contact: Melanie Conklin, DFI Communications Director, 608-261-4504 

MADISON – Net income and total lending grew at Wisconsin’s 125 state-chartered credit unions in 2018 compared to 2017, according to data released today by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

Over the 12 months ending on December 31, 2018:

  • Net income totaled $401.3 million, up 7.76% from $372.4 million in 2017.
  • Total loans were $30.3 billion, up 11.5% from $27.2 billion.
  • Net worth was 11.49%, up from 11.28%.
  • The delinquent loan ratio was 0.69%, down from 0.70%.

“The positive growth in all categories over the past year is good news for our state-chartered credit unions and a healthy sign for our state’s economy,” said DFI Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld.

A full report on credit unions’ fourth-quarter 2018 performance will be available on the DFI website, www.wdfi.org, by the end of February.

FRI AM Update: Regents may take up tuition increases today; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Evers orders flags at half-staff in honor of fallen MPD officer

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FRI REPORT: GOP lawmakers paying attorney in lame-duck suits at almost twice the rate Evers paying

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GOP lawmakers paying attorney in lame-duck suits at almost twice the rate Evers paying

Republican lawmakers have agreed to pay the former solicitor general $500 per hour to represent them in two suits challenging the lame-duck laws, nearly double the rate Gov. Tony Evers is paying his private attorneys in those cases.

The GOP contracts, provided to WisPolitics.com today through an open records request, also don’t cap the overall cost for Misha Tseytlin, who served under GOP AG Brad Schimel, in the cases.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for up to $100,000 to cover the cost of Madison law firm Pines Bach to represent Evers in the two suits. Each contract calls for a rate of $275 per hour for the attorneys representing the guv, with a cap of $50,000, though the ceiling could be amended under each document “if litigation requires additional resources.”

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff slammed the disparity in rates in a statement this afternoon.

“Republicans won’t pay for a middle class tax cut but they’re willing to spend unlimited money defending their attempts to override the will of the people,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Both Evers and GOP lawmakers hired private attorneys for representation in two recent lawsuits challenging the December extraordinary session: one from a coalition of groups that say the lame-duck laws are unconstitutional because they stemmed from an unlawful legislative session; and the latest from five unions and state Sen. Janet Bewley that argues the laws violate the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause.

Tseytlin in the GOP contracts note the $500 hourly rate he’s charging “is less than my standard hourly rate.” The document shows Tseytlin will be Republicans’ primary attorney in the case, but he may assign other attorneys work on aspects of the case, though the contract says none would make more than $500 hourly. Tseytlin has joined Chicago-based firm Troutman Sanders, according to the docs.

In a separate letter, sent to Vos and Senate President Roger Roth Jan. 16, Tseytlin wrote if the Legislature prevails in the case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups, he would seek to recover the full fees the Legislature would have incurred “had I charged the fees typically charged to commercial clients.” The Legislature would then remit to Tseytlin the full amount of any fees awarded, the letter said.

That language was not included in either of the two contracts, which were signed earlier this week.

The state is also on the hook for out-of-pocket expenses, such as printing, photocopying, travel costs and more, per the contracts. Tseytlin’s firm will send the Legislature monthly invoices to cover the costs incurred, the documents said.

The latest contract between Evers and Pines Bach was provided to WisPolitics.com today by the guv’s office. That contract, in response to the suit brought by the unions this week, comes after Evers hired the firm late last month to represent him in the earlier lame-duck case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups.

Baldauff, the Evers spokeswoman, said in a statement earlier today the office’s decision to retain Pines Bach comes from the “overlapping issues” in both cases that would make it “more cost effective” to hire the same firm for each suit. She also pointed to the firm’s “expertise in state constitutional law issues.”

The guv has also assigned private attorneys to represent the Elections Commission in the League of Women Voters suit, at a cost of up to $50,000. The commission had requested representation from the Department of Justice, but the agency notified the commission it couldn’t provide representation due to a conflict. The terms of its contract are similar to the ones the guv’s office signed.

Former Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach, who served under Dem AG Peg Lautenschlager, and two colleagues at Lawton & Cates will represent the commission. The terms of the contract, which call for the firm to make up to $50,000, are similar to one the guv’s office signed.

One Wisconsin Now: Robin “Boss” Vos to Wisconsin middle class: ‘Pay for your own tax savings’


Mike Browne, Deputy Director
[email protected]
(608) 444-3483

Suggests Cuts to Education, Health Care and Roads to Fund Middle Class Tax Plan Instead of Asking Millionaires and Billionaires to Pay Their Fair Share

MADISON, Wis. — Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos is suggesting cutting funds available for priorities like education, health care and roads instead of closing a tax loophole exploited by the wealthiest Wisconsinites, according to media reports. Vos has previously said he opposes any changes to a state tax loophole for owners of manufacturing businesses, that overwhelmingly benefits a very limited number of high income earners, to help offset the cost of a middle class tax cut proposed by Gov. Tony Evers.

“Robin Vos has drawn a line in the sand, saying he won’t even consider asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share so Wisconsin’s middle class can get a tax cut,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher. “Vos would rather cut funds for schools, roads and health care.”

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vos continues to rule out closing tax loopholes to pay for middle class tax relief. Instead, “He said he would consider funding the cut through general purpose revenue.”

General purpose revenue is the primary source of state funding for K-12 public schools and helps pay for numerous other programs including health care, transportation, public safety, job creation and more.

Eicher noted One Wisconsin Now previously raised the question if the wealthy Vos’ staunch defense of the tax break was for personal reasons. Vos’ financial disclosures reveal his personal wealth includes businesses with millions in real estate holdings and manufacturing interests. Entities for which he claims ownership include Robin J. Vos Enterprises, Inc. and Romata LLP. Romata owns property assessed as manufacturing that houses popcorn manufacturing and packing operations under the corporate umbrella of Robin J. Vos Enterprises.

Tax records obtained by One Wisconsin Now show Romata reported $0 in net state tax liability in 2017 and Robin J. Vos Enterprises reported $0 net state tax liability for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, nearly 80 percent of the tax break Vos is fighting tooth and nail to preserve will go to individuals with adjusted gross incomes of over $1 million for tax year 2019.

“It’s bad enough Robin Vos won’t ask the top income earners in Wisconsin to pay their fair share. Now he’s telling middle class taxpayers to pay for their own tax savings,” concluded Eicher.

Rep. Steineke: Milwaukee bus driver to be named assembly ‘Hometown Hero’


CONTACT: Rep. Jim Steineke
(608) 266-2401

MADISON – The Wisconsin State Assembly will recognize Irena Ivic from Greenfield, Wisconsin as a “Hometown Hero” at the upcoming Assembly session on February 12th.

Ivic, a Milwaukee County bus driver, was nominated by her State Representative, Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), and a Milwaukee legislator, Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), after making national news when footage of her saving a barefooted infant along her bus route went viral. The incident happened just days before Christmas in freezing conditions when Ivic saw a barefooted little boy running along the road in freezing temperatures. She stopped the bus, picked him up, and brought him back to the warmth of the bus before calling for assistance.

“I’m proud to see that public servants like Irena are always looking for opportunities to step up and help the communities they serve,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), who selected Ivic to receive the award. “Milwaukee is lucky to have someone who can stay calm, take charge, and ultimately save a life on their team.”

The Wisconsin State Assembly sees giving back to the community as one of the most valuable characteristics one can have. The Assembly Hometown Heroes program seeks to identify and recognize individuals from around the state who give of themselves to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of those around them. Hometown Hero Award winners are invited and introduced as a special guest at an Assembly floor session and given the opportunity to speak.

Rep. Steineke: Shawano couple to be named assembly ‘Hometown Heroes’


CONTACT: Rep. Jim Steineke
(608) 266-2401

MADISON – The Wisconsin State Assembly will recognize Chad and Cheyna Kary from Shawano as “Hometown Heroes” at the upcoming Assembly session on February 12th.

The Karys were nominated by their State Representative, Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel), for their efforts in the community to create a nonprofit called Georgia’s House. After the Karys’ daughter was born prematurely, the couple had the opportunity to stay in a home in Allouez following the birth and eventual loss of their newborn baby, Georgia Faith. Since that experience, they are closing in on their goal of raising $75,000 to buy the home from its owners to turn it into Georgia’s House.

“I commend these parents for being able to use their own situation to see a need in their community,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauan), who selected the Karys to receive the award. “Georgia’s House will undoubtedly bring comfort to other parents facing similar challenges.”

Georgia’s House will operate as a non-profit with the purpose of providing a place for families with premature babies to stay, free of charge. Because Green Bay has the area’s closest neonatal intensive care unit, the Karys’ goal is to give parents who need to temporarily relocate the peace of mind of stable housing.

“This was a sad situation for the Karys,” Rep. Tauchen said, “and something exceptional came out of it – something very positive that will make a tremendous impact on peoples’ lives.”

For their dedication to their community, the Karys will be honored guests of the state Assembly on Tuesday, February 12th where they will be recognized for their continued work through Georgia’s House.

The Wisconsin State Assembly sees giving back to the community as one of the most valuable characteristics one can have. The Assembly Hometown Heroes program seeks to identify and recognize individuals from around the state who give of themselves to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of those around them. Hometown Hero Award winners are invited and introduced as a special guest at an Assembly floor session and given the opportunity to speak.

Rep. Steineke: Veteran and avid volunteer to be named assembly ‘Hometown Hero’


CONTACT: Rep. Jim Steineke
(608) 266-2401

MADISON – The Wisconsin State Assembly will recognize Bill Kelly from Langlade County, Wisconsin as a “Hometown Hero” at the upcoming Assembly session on February 12th.

Kelly, a veteran who served in the Philippines and Japan in the late 40s and early 50s, was nominated by his State Representative, Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma), for his work within the Salvation Army in Langlade County. Kelly has been with the organization for the past 18 years. Notably, when he became head of the bell ringers 15 years ago, they brought in $12,000; by 2015, they were bringing in $100,000 each year.

“The difference Bill has been able to make in his community is truly remarkable,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), who selected Kelly for the award. “I am proud to have the Assembly recognize his heart for service and giving.”

As a testament to his commitment to the cause, Kelly still braves the cold and snow each winter to bell ring. His spirit of giving back has been a staple of the community and has inspired others around him, young and old, to also turn their attention to charitable causes.

“Bill Kelly not only bravely served his country, but has selflessly given his time and energy to the Salvation Army in our district, engaging the community and completely transforming the organization,” said Rep. Felzkowski. “I look forward to honoring him on Tuesday.”

The Wisconsin State Assembly sees giving back to the community as one of the most valuable characteristics one can have. The Assembly Hometown Heroes program seeks to identify and recognize individuals from around the state who give of themselves to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of those around them. Hometown Hero Award winners are invited and introduced as a special guest at an Assembly floor session and given the opportunity to speak.

U.S. Rep. Duffy: Co-introduces bipartisan housing voucher mobility legislation


Mark Bednar202-738-0744

 WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance, today co-introduced the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2019 with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). The legislation would authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to carry out a housing choice voucher mobility demonstration to encourage families receiving such voucher assistance to move to lower-poverty areas and expand access to opportunity areas.

“I’m proud to join Emanuel Cleaver to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to help break the generational cycle of poverty. People deserve the chance to relocate to areas with more opportunity and greater economic freedom,” said Congressman Duffy. “I’d like to thank Emanuel Cleaver for continuing to partner with me to tackle this major contributor to generational poverty.”

U.S. Sen.Baldwin: Helps introduce bipartisan legislation to combat rising prescription drug prices


Contact: [email protected]


Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would counter most common delay tactics used by name-brand manufacturers to prevent lower-cost generic competition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation to combat anticompetitive practices used by some brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies to block entry of lower-cost generic drugs.

The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.

“I’ve heard from countless Wisconsinites who can’t afford the rising costs of the prescription medication they need. They want Washington to act and this bipartisan reform will take on the unfair practices of some brand-name pharmaceutical companies that drive up prescription drug costs,” said Senator Baldwin. “Lower-cost generic drugs shouldn’t be blocked from the marketplace by big drug companies. This bipartisan legislation will make more affordable prescription drug options available to consumers who should be able to get the medications they need at a price they can afford.”

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would result in a $3.9 billion net decrease in the federal deficit. Savings to consumers and private insurers likely would be far greater – many billions of dollars more.

The legislation, a version of which was introduced in the House earlier this year, is strongly supported by a coalition of groups including the AARP, American College of Physicians, FreedomWorks, Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs and many more. The full list of supporters is available here.

The bill is led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT). The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Kennedy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Todd Young (R-IN).

More information about the CREATES Act is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.

VC investor calls for funds to co-invest with larger out-of-state firms


A Madison venture capital investor says Wisconsin’s investment landscape could be greatly improved by funds co-investing with larger out-of-state firms.


Andy Walker (pictured here) is a partner with Rock River Capital Partners, a Badger Fund of Funds recipient that announced its first investment near the end of 2018 after raising a $23 million fund.


“I want to make sure we’re not being insular as a state and insular as a fund,” Walker told WisBusiness.com. “We partner with everybody in the state, but we also really want to bring capital in from out of state — in our last deal, we brought it in from out of country.”


With their first investment, Walker and fellow partner Chris Eckstrom backed a Madison startup called Gravy, an ecommerce platform for shopping over mobile phones. In the same round, Gravy landed an investment from MSA Capital, a $1 billion Beijing investment firm.


“We love co-investing with other funds that ideally have even bigger pools of capital than us,” Walker said.


He says these funds can bring more to the table in some respects, by adding a board member or leveraging other resources.


“If every fund like ours was bringing in co-investors from outside of the state, I think the amount of capital flowing in and out of the state would be disproportionate to the size we are,” he said.


See more at WisBusiness.com.

Vos says he’s open to negotiations with Evers on funding middle-class tax cut

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he “would definitely be open to” negotiating with Gov. Tony Evers about how to fund a middle-class tax cut.

But the Rochester Republican continued to rule out a tax increase being part of the equation as Evers knocked the GOP version of the plan as “fiscally irresponsible.”

Both sides continued to dig in over how to pay for their shared goal of a middle-class tax cut as the Joint Finance Committee Thursday approved along party lines the GOP’s version.

As Dems complained Republicans were forging ahead without bipartisan support on how to pay for the tax cut, JFC Co-chair John Nygren argued ahead of the hearing that Republicans had already compromised. The Marinette Republican said that’s because they were taking cues from Evers on how to target tax cuts to the middle class rather than doing the broader relief some GOP lawmakers preferred.

Republicans want to use the projected $691.5 million gross balance in the general fund at the end of the current fiscal year to cover the costs of their tax cut over the 2019-21 budget.

Evers and Dems, though, have objected to using one-time money to cover the cost of an ongoing obligation. They have proposed capping a tax credit for manufacturers to help cover the price tag of their plan, which Republicans have called a non-starter.

Nygren told reporters the only hangup was how to pay for the tax cut.

“That is a significant movement on our part already,” Nygren said. “I would ask where has Tony Evers moved on the tax cut?”

Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback fired back the guv was serious about providing “real, responsible tax relief” and noted he ran on a plan that included capping “handouts to millionaires” to pay for it.

“Introducing a competing proposal that uses one-time funds and leaves taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in the future it isn’t compromise, it’s just fiscally irresponsible,” Cudaback said.

During the hearing, Dems urged Republicans to hold off on their standalone bill, which passed 10-3, and instead debate the tax cut in the context of Evers’ budget, which will be released in three weeks.

Under the GOP plan, the state would see reduced revenues of $152.1 million in the first year of the upcoming budget as withholding changes were changed to reflect the cut. It would then be a reduction of $343.5 million in the second year of the budget.

The state expects to have $2.4 billion in additional revenue to spend through mid-2021, meaning the GOP plan would drop that to $1.9 billion.

The GOP plan would result in a tax cut for nearly 2 million filers with an average reduction of $170 for those seeing a reduction.

While open to negotiating with Evers, Vos ruled out paying for the cut through a different tax increase.

“If the idea would be they have a different funding mechanism, they want to take it out of GPR, I wouldn’t be opposed to talking about that,” he told reporters after a Rules Committee meeting Thursday. “That’s not a nonstarter.”

The Assembly is planning to take up AB 4, the GOP proposal to increase the standard deduction on a sliding scale, when the chamber convenes on Tuesday. The plan runs counter to a version from Evers and Dems that would create a new nonrefundable tax credit and increase the state-level credit recipients get under the federal earned income tax credit.

Vos and the guv met Wednesday, but the two didn’t talk about the competing tax cut plans, Vos said.

Hear the audio of Vos speaking with reporters here.

Subscribers can read more about the JFC meeting at the Budget Blog.

WisOpinion.com: ‘The Insiders’ discuss Walker’s political future


This week on “The Insiders,” Chvala and Jensen discuss whether former Gov. Scott Walker is the future of the state GOP.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

WISPIRG: U.S. Consumer Bureau gives payday debt traps its seal of approval


Peter Skopec, WISPIRG
(847) 687-7229 (m); [email protected]

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) this week released a proposal for gutting its own payday lending borrower protections, which were originally set to go into effect this August. WISPIRG director Peter Skopec issued the following statement:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, under Director Kathy Kraninger, has officially given payday debt traps its seal of approval. This week’s proposal is a reckless rubber-stamping of predatory lending.

Payday loans come with an average interest rate of nearly 500 percent APR in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Financial Institutions. WISPIRG’s 2016 analysis of written complaints to the Consumer Bureau about payday lending found significant evidence of the major problem with these loans: Borrowers can’t afford them and end up stuck in a cycle of debt.

In 2017, under previous CFPB Director Richard Cordray, the Bureau created common-sense consumer protections that simply required lenders to check whether potential customers could repay high-interest loans. By proposing to get rid of this underwriting requirement, the CFPB is gutting important protections that were the result of a 5-year, data-driven approach to the problem of predatory debt-trap loans.

Just last year, 77 percent of Coloradans voted to rein in predatory lenders by capping interest rates at 36 percent APR through a ballot measure, making Colorado the 16th state (along with D.C.) to ban payday debt traps. But consumers in other states need protections, too.

We encourage consumers to speak up and submit comments against this week’s proposal during the CFPB’s 90-day public comment period.”

WisPolitics Midday: Feb. 8, 2019


In today’s WisPolitics Midday update:

  • UW Board of Regents approves tuition increases.
  • Speaker Robin Vos will not support a tax increase to pay for a middle-class tax cut.


February 10, 2019 | February 7, 2019