LAST CHANCE to speak out on the Forestry Mill Tax

VERY SOON the Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) will be taking up the Forestry Mill Tax (or as legislators have been calling it the State Property Tax) issue.  The Committee is split on this issue and needs to hear from WWOA members and citizens about the benefits of the Forestry Mill Tax. Your voice and a few minutes of your time CAN make a difference on this very important issue!


  1. WWOA members are encouraged to call Joint Committee on Finance members to express their opinion on the Forestry Mill Tax or WI Property Tax on Wednesday, May 24 or Tuesday, May 30, if possible.  
  2. If you are a constituent (a voter in the district) of a member of the Joint Committee on Finance, try to meet in person with your legislator either at their office in Madison as soon as possible or when they are home in their district over Memorial Day Weekend.
  3. Email or send letters to members of JCF with your thoughts on this issue.
  4. Share your thoughts with your State Legislators in addition to members of JCF.

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Joint Committee on Finance Members

Please select Read More for the full listing of all Joint Committee on Finance Members and their contact information. [Read more…]

Wisconsin Property Tax = Forestry Mill Tax

While we in the forestry community have been discussing the proposed state budget provision which eliminates the collection of the Forestry Mill Tax and instead will use General Purpose Revenue to fund the Forestry Fund for this budget cycle – the Governor and some legislators have been broadcasting their message of eliminating Wisconsin’s Property Tax.

However, they never tell you why we have a very small Wisconsin Property Tax or how these funds are used. Top 10 things you need to know about the Wisconsin Property Tax:

  1.  The Wisconsin Property Tax IS the Forestry Mill Tax.
  2.  It is assessed at 0.167 mills per $1,000 of property value.  An average $150,000 Wisconsin property pays $25.05/year or about the cost of a couple of Friday night fish fries without drinks.
  3.  The WI Property Tax was created by a Constitutional Amendment by citizens during the time when Wisconsin’s forests were decimated at the turn of the 20th century.  It is because of this fund that Wisconsin has beautiful and productive forests.  Forests take decades to grow – by enacting the Forestry Mill Tax in 1930, citizens of long ago made an investment in the forests of today.  If this long-term source of revenue is eliminated, what are we giving to our next generation?
  4. The Forest Industry is the #2 largest contributor to the State’s economy.  If this revenue is eliminated – will the domino effect occur?  Loss of forest industry, loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of family homes, declining property values, …
  5. The WI Property Tax grows Wisconsin by aiding Wisconsin’s most urban areas – 12% of the fund must be spent in SE Wisconsin for urban forestry efforts to keep city trees healthy, care for Wisconsin’s southern State Forests, and tree planting.
  6. The WI Property Tax grows rural areas of the state by providing jobs through forest industry and tourism and by providing fire protection in rural and semi-rural areas.
  7. The Wisconsin Property Tax aids Wisconsin’s counties through the County Forest program to provide foresters, loans to counties for land acquisition and capital development projects.
  8. The Wisconsin Property Tax assists Wisconsin’s 350,000 private woodland owners with sustainable forestry management advice and cost sharing.
  9. The Wisconsin Property Tax provides forestry education for Wisconsin’s school children.
  10. The Wisconsin Property Tax provides significant payments on Wisconsin’s Stewardship Debt through the Knowles -Nelson Stewardship Program which provides lands for public recreation and conservation of natural resources.

Legislators surveys on Property Tax issue – Don’t throw it away!

Wisconsin citizens have been receiving surveys from their State Legislators on the Property Tax issue.  The ones we have seen make all kinds of claims such as – property taxes have gone sky high, hell is freezing over, elimination of the property tax will increase funds for schools, or it will help someone be able to afford a home.

What they don’t tell you – WISCONSIN’S PROPERTY TAX IS THE FORESTRY MILL TAX.  The owner of a $150,000 home pays $30/year  in forestry mill tax.  Take a look at your last property tax bill.  The amount listed on that bill as “State of Wisconsin” is your share of the forestry mill tax.

If you have received one of these surveys and you support keeping the Forestry Mill Tax – NOW is the time to return your survey stating that you support keeping the forestry mill tax and that you would like to visit with your legislator about this issue.

Please do not just throw your survey away – respond!  The fact that legislators are sending out surveys means that we are having an impact on this issue…but we need your continued input while the Joint Committee on Finance discusses this issue.

If you haven’t received a survey it is still important for you to weigh in with members of the Joint Committee on Finance.  WWOA’s  letter to the Joint Committee on Finance members went out this week.

Governor’s Weekly Address on Forestry Mill Tax

The Governor’s weekly radio address  discusses “lasting property tax relief” in the proposed budget.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  Until you realize that he is talking about saving you an average of $26/year by defunding the Forestry Mill Tax.

Talk about “lasting” – look at Wisconsin’s beautiful and healthy forests!  They provide us with a uniquely Wisconsin quality of life, a life where we have clean air and water, picturesque landscapes, abounding forest recreational opportunities, and a diversity of forest industries to help keep our forests healthy and rural communities with jobs.

WWOA encourages you to express your thoughts on the Forestry Mill Tax directly to members of the Joint Committee on Finance.  The proposed budget bill is in their hands and NOW is the time to contact them.


Forestry Mill Tax Needs Your Help!

Budget Update – Efforts to Save the Mill Tax

Last week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) concluded their public hearings across the state.  I’d like to thank all of you who came out to share your thoughts on the Governor’s Budget Proposal.  It’s crucial for the Committee to hear what’s important to the folks who live up north.

The next step in the budget process is the JFC will begin voting on provisions in the Governor’s budget.  The committee can decide to keep, modify, or delete provisions.  One provision I’m working very hard to get removed from the budget is related to the States Forestry Mill Tax.

The Governor has proposed eliminating the tax and instead provide General Purpose Revenue (GPR) for forestry operations.  I think this could be detrimental to our Forestry Industry.  Up in the Northwoods we all understand how vital a sustainable healthy forest is.  I think it gets lost on folks south of us that Forestry is the second largest contributor to our state’s economy and provides more than 64,000 jobs. Since 1930, we’ve had a secure funding source (the Forestry Mill tax) and this is a huge reason why our forests are so healthy and the envy of many other states.

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Forestry Account Revenue & Expenditures FY 2016

Members have been asking, what does the Forestry Mill Tax pay for?

Funds raised through the Forestry Mill Tax are deposited in the DNR Conservation Fund under the Forestry Account.  The DNR Forestry Account Revenue and Expenditures for fiscal year 2016 have been released.  The Forestry Account shows revenues of $118,289,789 with total state and federal expenditures of $113,628,313.  The Forestry Mill Tax provided a revenue of $83,306,027.

Review the report to read details on revenue and expenditures.

Read the additional posts below to learn more about the Forestry Mill Tax.

Joint Committee on Finance Announces Budget Bill Public Hearings

The Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) will hold public hearings on the Governor’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget – Assembly Bill 64/Senate Bill 30 – which contain the provisions to remove the Forestry Mill Tax.  WWOA and other conservation organizations strongly oppose the removal of the Forestry Mill Tax funding in the state budget because it places Wisconsin’s nationally recognized forests and their resulting benefits at great risk.  We also know this will be a tight budgeting year.  If the legislature approves the Forestry Mill Tax provisions as written in the budget, the forestry account will be added to General Purpose Revenue (GPR) expenditures at a cost of $181 million.

Public Hearing Dates and Locations

Monday, April 3  10 am – 5 pm  UW – Platteville, Ullsvick Hall, 30 South Hickory St, Platteville

Wednesday, April 5  10 am – 5 pm  State Fair Pk – Exposition Ctr, 8200 W Greenfield Ave, West Allis

Friday, April 7  10 am – 5 pm  Berlin HS Auditorium, 222 Memorial Dr, Berlin

Tuesday, April 18  10 am – 6 pm  Spooner HS Auditorium, 801 Co Hwy A, Spooner

Wednesday, April 19  10 am – 5 pm  Ellsworth HS Gymnasium, 323 W Hillcrest St, Ellsworth

Friday, April 21  10 am – 5 pm  Marinette HS Auditorium, 2135 Pierce Ave, Marinette

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Wisconsin Forests at Risk without Forestry Mill Tax

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association authored the following coalition letter to share information about the Forestry Mill Tax’s 2017-19 budget provisions with Wisconsin’s citizens and legislators.

An Open Letter to Wisconsin citizens and legislators,

Wisconsin forests are at risk in the 2017-19 state budget proposal, which removes the designated stable funding of the Forestry Mill Tax.  We strongly oppose the removal of this funding, which supports Wisconsin’s conservation traditions and the state’s second most important economic sector.

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Forestry Mill Tax vs GPR

To Members of the Wisconsin Forestry Community,

No doubt you’re aware of the Governor’s proposal to replace the funding that has been generated through our Forestry Mill Tax since 1930 with what is proposed to be an equal amount of General Purpose Revenue (GPR).  In any of the discussions I’ve had with forestry stakeholders about this I’ve heard strong concerns and a variety of opinions, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest we’d be better off if funding for forestry was significantly reduced.  If significant reductions in forestry revenue and all the programs that revenue supports are desirable, than eliminating the Mill Tax and replacing it with General Purpose Revenue makes perfect sense.  Anyone who believes it’s important to maintain stable funding for forestry should recognize the elimination of the Mill Tax as the biggest threat to Wisconsin’s forestry success story in a generation.

[Read more…]