Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lower Income in WI Is Higher Taxpayer, by Taylor Hoppe

Wisconsin takes more in taxes from middle- and low-income families than their richer counterparts, according to the fourth edition of “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” released on January 30th

Jon Peacock, director of the Wisconsin Budget Project,  is advising lawmakers about the effects of these findings and their relation to tax changes currently being discussed.  

“The sort of income tax cut that is currently being processed won’t provide any assistance to the lower two-fifths of state tax filer,” Peacock said. The tax cuts would have a large benefit to taxpayers making over $150,000 per year. Wisconsin residents experience part of a national trend with the bottom fifth (9.6%) paying more than the top one percent (6.9%) of income taxes, says the report. 

The latest budget change in Wisconsin raises taxes for low-income seniors as well and reduces the Homestead Tax Credit (tax relief for homeowners and renters) by $14 million and will further grow steadily in years to come. 

“Who Pays?” shows that changes made in the last state budget increase the spread of taxes paid by the lower income residents of the state. It also shows that states claiming to have lower rates actually have higher total taxes on middle- and low- income families.

For more information or to see the full “Who Pays?” report, visit

Staying Safe: Moving Into the City, by Dan McEssy

Moving out from under your parents’ roof can be exciting, but to many nerve-wracking too. Every night local media agencies utilize nearly a half-hour to detail a small sliver of the crimes happening in your community. Having to deal with this reality alone can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not from a large city.

There are ways to prepare, if not prevent, falling victim to senseless crimes. The majority of these steps seem common sense, but they are often over-looked. After reading the following steps, make sure to follow them with consistency until they become habit to ensure your safety.

Lock your house or room once you leave

Don’t make simply walking into your house an option. Thieves will often watch people coming out of their homes to see if they lock their door. If they don’t, it is a perfect invitation for burglars to walk in your home without a sound. If you want to go the extra mile, install a dead-bolt lock into your doors. It is not nearly as simple to pick as a conventional door lock.

This also applies to windows. Burglars know this is the one place people almost always forget to lock, which is why it has become so popular. If your window doesn’t have a built in lock, put a stick or some securing mechanism in the tracks. The more obstacles a thief has to endure, the less likely they will continue to pursue breaking in.

Lock your car every time you leave, no matter how brief

Here it is again, locking your things. If it isn’t a habit already, make sure to lock your car doors. No matter how brief your departure is, always be on the safe side. Locking your car should be common sense, especially if you have valuables in your car. Make sure to keep your car relatively low-key; don’t have expensive items in plain sight. Any type of valuable, including a purse, is all the thief needs to see before taking the risk. The safest place for valuables is your trunk, especially if it is a closed trunk (without windows). Remember, it may not always be what someone can take out, but what they put in that you have to worry about. This can include anything from illegal contraband, poisons, and tracking devises.

Nothing good happens after 1am

The old saying definitely applies to the city. It wouldn’t be wise to test your chances even if you’re with a group of friends anywhere this late. By 1am, those at the bars are probably reaching that “one too many” drink. People have known that alcohol and violence are closely related since the early days of civilization. This is also the time when gangs, dealers, and violent criminals of all types make an appearance. Call it quits before it gets too late; it just isn’t worth risking running into the wrong people.

Mind your own business

It’s one of the most used come-backs and advice since your childhood. Minding your own business in the big city is key to staying out of things you never wanted to be involved in. If you focus on what you’re doing without purposely eves-dropping or interjecting your opinion, no one will know you’re there. That’s the key; you want to stay as low-key and friendly as possible. Also be cautious when people ask you to do nice things for them. People may ask for a ride somewhere, to deliver something, or help with something their home; all of these things can be traps and should be avoided. If something seems off, or you don’t feel comfortable in any way, keep to yourself and continue to walk away. You may not feel like the nicest person, but the risk you have to take to help everyone is far too great.

Be aware of your surroundings

This can be said for whenever or wherever you are, but your senses should always be a notch higher in the city. The increase in people means there is more to watch out for. Always keep a watch out for suspicious people. Anyone who looks out of place probably is. Men sitting outside of women’s stores, someone staying around too long, or a well-dressed person in an alley are all examples of people potentially out of place. Don’t feel flattered by someone always watching you; they’re probably up to no good. Keep your eyes moving on your surroundings. Tunnel vision can lead to accidents if not worse.

If at any time you don’t feel safe because you have recognized something, either walk to the nearest reputable business for the bathroom, or submerge yourself in a large amount of people. Never walk off into an alley or anywhere that you find yourself alone or with no place to exit. If someone touches you, or tries to steal something of yours, draw as much attention to yourself as possible. The more eyes fixed on you, the less likely a criminal will act. They do not want to be seen committing a crime, so they will simply walk away.

Act like you’ve been there before

This is a common saying for football players when they make their first touchdown. The same should be applied when it’s your first time in the city. Show confidence in what you’re doing. Criminals prey on those who look scared, confused, and impressionable. If you’re not sure on directions, ask someone at a business, not someone on the street. Try not to carry tourist-like souvenirs or pamphlets when walking around. People will take advantage of any weakness you show, so keep them to a minimum. Show confidence in what you’re doing, and no one will question you.

The overriding theme is to blend in. If you stick out, you instantly become a target. Most crimes do not happen to random strangers unless they look vulnerable. If you are not sure about a city, or a certain area of town that you need to go to, take a friend. Don’t shrug off asking for help because it doesn’t seem cool. Safety should always be your top concern. Calling the police is always an option, but be weary to call only in emergencies to avoid false alarms. If you consistently abide by these guidelines you’ll decrease your risk and have a safe and enjoyable time in the city.

Politics Profitable for Local Media, by Kelsey Jackson

Political campaigns generate millions of dollars, a large portion of that money dedicated towards advertising for a party or attacking an opponent.  

Brian Schumacher, General Sales Manager at WXOW/WQOW for ABC La Crosse and Eau Claire TV market, states approximately $2.4 million dollars was made during this campaign season. 

Both Democrats and Republicans have rights to the lowest rates because of the FCC rules and regulations. The FCC also requires any messages approved by candidates cannot be denied airtime by a news station for any reason. Any messages without consent of the candidate may indeed by denied airtime by the station. 

3rd party candidates do not receive the same benefits as the two dominate parties and may be charged higher prices for airtime. Schumacher says there are four separate classes of time. The first is a fixed time and non-pre-emptible, second pre-emptible with a 48-hour notice, third pre-emptible with a 24 hour notice, and lastly the fourth class immediately pre-emptible without notice. Both Republican and Democrat candidates are guaranteed the lowest rates within each class, but independent and 3rd party candidates can and have been charged increased rates. 

Rates given by Schumacher, based on :30 second time slots in prime time and in the 4th quarter for 2012, range from $100-$2,500 on ABC and $10-$75 on CW. 

Schumacher gave a rough estimate that Democratic candidates outspend Republicans at his station $400,000 to $300,000 with issue groups leading for Republicans at 60% and Democrats at 40%. 

Schumacher stated that WXOW had nine candidate campaigns: Obama, Romeny, Kind, Feehan, Duffy, Krietlow, Thompson, Baldwin, and Vandermeer. There were 17 separate issue groups as well.

WI Mining Controversy, by Megan Nicoud

While the proposed iron mine in Northern Wisconsin will open much needed jobs, the lack of environmental consideration is believed to be potentially harmful towards the forests, water tables, surrounding landscapes and local wildlife in the proposed mine site. Wisconsin’s long standing environmental protection laws are being threatened as an out of state mining company seeks to move in on Northern Wisconsin’s iron reserves, according to Representative Fred Clark of Sauk County.

The out of state company, Gogebic Taconite, plans to create an estimated 2,200 jobs by opening a new mine in Northern Wisconsin, with 700 of those jobs being created during initial construction. The new jobs would pay an average of $82,000, an amount almost double that of the county average.  According to Larry Kaufmann, a supporter of the proposed mining, “Ashland and Iron counties contain about 2 billion tons of iron ore deposits, which is enough to support 100 years of mining.” Both Ashland and Iron are currently struggling with an average income of $35,000, according to the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.

However, the bills being passed to create the opportunity for mining and the possible jobs it would bring are being highly contested by the local people. Tribal groups are also opposed, namely the Bad River Chippewa Tribe. Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins Jr. has testified to the minerals produced by the waste rock from the mine to be harmful to the tribe’s wild rice beds, according to Wisconsin Resources Protection Council. The bills have been moderately revised in recent legislative meetings; however they still fall short of the environmentally conscious expectations of Wisconsin natives.

 “Instead of listening to citizens who are overwhelmingly opposed to the sweeping environmental deregulation contained in this bill, the author of the bill seem content with a few minor changes that retain all the worst aspects of this legislation,” said Clark. “We cannot afford the ‘any mine at any price’ mantra that is driving this legislation. Instead, we should be striking the best deal for everyone in Wisconsin by assuring that our environmental protections remain strong, and that any mine built in Wisconsin provides reinvestment and fair return for local communities.”

Senator Tim Cullen is leading  on reforming the bills to provide for the protection of the environment as well as creating family centered jobs and improves the overall Wisconsin economy. The weekend of the ninth, Senator Cullen organized a meeting in order to determine the feelings of the locals of Ashland county. 200 people attended, from tribal leaders to local residents, according to the Daily Chronicle. While weighing the positive and negative impacts of the proposed mine, the sentiment towards dissatisfaction with the legislation was clear. But there were also residents who support the bill, such as Frank Costka, a northern Wisconsin native and head of the Ashland County Republican Party. In a meeting on February ninth, he stated that it would cause a great economic boost for the area. “Tourism doesn’t pay a living wage,” said Costka.

Further attempts at reforming the bills are underway within the State legislature. For more information, contact Senator Tim Cullen, at (608) 266-2253 or email, or Representative Clark at (888) 534-0042 or email