Wisconsin roundup: Taxpayers won’t recoup Foxconn investment until 2043, report states; 10 more state news stories
MADISON — It would take 27 years for Wisconsin taxpayers to get back all of their proposed investment in the Foxconn LCD screen factory.
That's according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau that analyzed the proposed $3 billion package of tax breaks, lower utility costs, relaxing of environmental laws, a state guarantee that Foxconn would get local government subsidies if the project fails. The Fiscal Bureau also says that for the first 15 years, taxpayers would give Foxconn $1 billion more than the new taxes generated by the plant — and all this assumes that it would operate a full levels with up to 13,000 new jobs eventually.
Despite the big early payouts, Gov. Scott Walker's office remains confident that Foxconn is an "excellent investment" with returns of $10 billion in company investments, $10 billion in new payrolls, and thousands of jobs. The Fiscal Bureau wrote that the Walker administration's projections "must be considered highly speculative."
Dairy business group sues DNR over pollution discharge rules
MADISON — The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association has filed a lawsuit alleging the state Department of Natural Resources is over-regulating large livestock operations.
The association filed the lawsuit in Brown County last week. It alleges the Wisconsin DNR has changed requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOS, to treat runoff and has implemented oversight of calf hutches without going through the administrative rule-making process.
The association goes on to argue the DNR is illegally requiring all CAFOS to obtain a pollution discharge permit regardless of whether they actually discharge any pollution into state waters. The lawsuit seeks judicial orders prohibiting the state DNR from enforcing the new runoff guidance, declaring the regulation of calf hutches invalid and the rule requiring blanket discharge permits unenforceable.
Walker to OK more legislative scrutiny of expensive agency rules
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker will make Wisconsin the first state to have full legislative oversight of expensive mandates from state agencies.
The Republican Walker is heading to Wausau Wednesday afternoon to sign what's known as the REINS Act — in which both houses would have to approve all administrative rules that cost businesses and others at least $10 million in a two year period. The Assembly and Senate would have 70 days to approve the rules or else bureaucrats would have to drop the price tags below $10 million.
Supporters say it would give those affected a chance to provide more input into the regulations they must follow. Democrats say it would undermine rules designed to protect people, and the Sierra Club calls it an "imprudent" effort to "chip away at the regulatory process."
GOP senator: UW should cut programs if it wants to help Foxconn
MADISON — If the University of Wisconsin System wants to help Foxconn, a Republican state senator says the institution should cut unpopular programs, not ask for more money.
Duey Strobel of Saukville criticized a request by UW-System President Ray Cross at a public hearing last week to add more state funds so the Madison campus can train more engineers needed for Foxconn's $10 billion LCD screen plant in southeast Wisconsin. Strobel says the university should use the money it has to boost engineering programs, and do a better job of prioritizing "needs and wants."
He did not say which current programs should be reduced. The university took the high road, with spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis saying the university is "encouraged" by its talks with lawmakers on how the UW can keep providing quality education and "world-renowned research."
Boy accidentally killed playing ‘cops and robbers’
LOGANVILLE — Sheriff's deputies in southern Wisconsin say a 10-year-old boy shot his 14-year-old brother to death during a game in which they did not think the rifle was loaded.
It happened late Tuesday morning at a home near Loganville in Sauk County. Deputies say three kids ages 10, 12, and 14 were playing "Cops and Robbers" Tuesday morning when the youngest boy pointed a rifle at the oldest, and pulled the trigger.
Officials say the magazine was removed from the gun, but there was still one round in the chamber — and that bullet hit the victim in the chest. He died at the scene, and his name was not immediately released while an investigation continues.
Twin Cities man wants 10 separate trials in campus sex-crime case
MADISON — Former UW-Madison student Alec Cook has asked for 10 separate trials to consider the 23 sex related charges against him.
In a request filed in court Tuesday, attorneys for the 21-year-old Cook from Edina, Minn., said he did not have an overall scheme to victimize 12 women on the Madison campus from 2014 through '16. They say the various allegations involve a host of issues.
For example, the motion said Cook's goal to "pick up any woman" should be innocent and not threatening as prosecutors claim. The Dane County DA says there are common threads that connect the victims, and there should only be one trial for all the charges of sexual assault, stalking, false imprisonment, strangulation and suffocation, and disorderly conduct. A judge will hold a hearing on Cook's request Sept. 8in Madison.
New York rally planned to support Wis. native Kaepernick
NEW YORK — A rally is planned in New York later this month to support Wisconsin native Colin Kaepernick.
He's the NFL quarterback who made national headlines last season when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice. Now, civil rights groups are planning a rally on Kaepernick's behalf outside the NFL headquarters in Manhattan Aug. 23. Filmmaker Spike Lee tweeted an announcement, saying he did not organize the event but he supports Kaepernick's stance on what Lee calls "injustices in the USA."
Many believe it's the reason Kaepernick remains a free agent after he left the San Francisco 49ers at the end of last season. Kaepernick is a Milwaukee native who has lived in Fond du Lac and New London.
US News again ranks UW state’s best hospital
WASHINGTON — For the sixth year in a row, UW-Hospital in Madison is rated as Wisconsin's best.
The annual ranking from US News and World Report puts Aurora/Saint Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee second, Froedtert in Wauwatosa third, Aspirus Wausau Hospital fourth, and St. Mary's in Madison fifth. UW ranks among the country's best in nine adult categories of care and seven pediatric specialities — but again this year, no Wisconsin based hospitals are among the 20 making the US News Honor Roll for high quality care in a variety of fields.
The Mayo Clinic tops the Honor Roll for the second straight year. It's based in Rochester, Minn., with hospitals and clinics in Eau Claire, La Crosse, and 15 other Wisconsin communities.
Convict charged in Superior drug death
SUPERIOR — A man who's in prison for identity theft and violating probation is now charged in the drug overdose death of a man from Superior last Thanksgiving.
Douglas County prosecutors filed a reckless homicide charge Tuesday against 22-year-old Nathan Birkholz of Superior. He allegedly provided a mix of heroin and fentanyl that killed 25-year-old Neil Christianson who was found dead in his Superior home last Nov. 25.
Investigators said Birkholz arranged several drug sales the night before which resulted in Christianson's death. Birkholz started a nine year prison term at Waupun in June, for violating a probation connected with a string of burglaries and identity theft. An initial court date has not been set for the drug death.
Net income for state credit unions grows by 11 percent
MADISON — Wisconsin credit unions are generally doing well.
State officials say the 135 chartered credit unions grew their net incomes by an average of 11.3 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same time in 2016. They netted almost $172 million from January through June, while loans grew 12 percent to $26 billion — and delinquent loans dropped slightly.
State Financial Institutions Secretary Jay Risch says Wisconsin credit unions had an "impressive" first half of 2017. Credit unions are owned by their members instead of stockholders and the state's largest — Landmark of New Berlin — had a 25 percent jump in its net income.
Pilot OK after flipping float plane
ELCHO — The pilot of a float plane is OK after flipping the plane on Otter Lake near the Langlade County town of Elcho.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the mishap. Authorities say the pilot may have failed to retract the landing gear before putting the plane down on the lake Monday night. The float plane overturned and started sinking. The pilot was the only one on board.