Governor Walker has two misguided items related to Wisconsin’s forests in his proposed 2017-2019 budget.
ELIMINATING WISCONSIN’S FORESTRY MILL RATE
Governor Walker has proposed eliminating Wisconsin’s forestry mill tax of two-tenths of one mill for each dollar of assessed valuation of property tax ($27/homeowner) with a budget option. That means Wisconsin’s forests and its related fish, wildlife and recreation management programs would compete with other general purpose revenues like education, corrections, healthcare and transportation.
Wisconsin’s forestry mill tax was established in 1927 to help regenerate acres of forests clear-cut in previous years. Wisconsin’s constitution emphasizes the mill tax’s importance for “the purpose of acquiring, preserving and developing the forests of the state and for other specified forestry purposes.”
The federal government has similar provisions set aside for conservation management. The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 guarantee long-term funding from federal excises taxes on firearms, ammo, bows, arrows and fishing tackle. Proceeds are distributed by USFWS to states based on their land mass and hunting/fishing license sales. Wisconsin currently ranks sixth among the states primarily because of the conservation management principles we practice which includes our forestry programs.
MOVING WDNR’S FORESTRY DIVISION TO NORTHERN WISCONSIN
Governor Walker has also proposed moving the entire forestry Division within the WDNR to an existing facility north of Highway 29. Why? Aren’t there trees everywhere in the State?
Let’s not handle our conservation management in the same way we have been handling our transportation infrastructure management. Contact your state congressmen and let them know how you feel about Governor Walker’s budget items related to forestry.