WISCONSIN’S PUBLIC SECTOR IS LEANER THAN MOST OTHER STATES’ – Wisconsin ranks 35th in the number of government workers per population, meaning Wisconsin’s state and local governments are leaner than all but 15 other states. The number of public employees in Wisconsin has fallen over time, and current levels of public employment are significantly lower than they were around the turn of the century. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has relatively few state and local government employees for the size of our population. Wisconsin had 49.6 government employees per 1,000 residents in 2015, 2.1% less than the national average. Fewer government employees means that Wisconsin governments spend less on public payrolls. For each person that lived in the state, Wisconsin spent 6.3% less than the national average on public payrolls, ranking 25th among the states. Another reason that public payroll costs in Wisconsin are low is that public employees in Wisconsin earn less than the national average. The payroll per employee in Wisconsin was 4.2% below the national average. http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/wisconsins-public-sector-is-leaner-than-most-other-states-3
EPA RELEASES DRAFT REPORT ON A “HEALTH-BASED BENCHMARK” FOR LEAD IN DRINKING WATER – EPA developed a range of potential health-based benchmarks that range from 3 to 56 ppb of lead in water that people actually drink. Much of the public is currently confused by the relevance of the EPA action level for lead in drinking water. An exceedance of the 15 parts per billion of lead action level in any one tap sample is not an indication of the level of lead in the public’s drinking water. EPA developed values under three different approaches for three different age groups of children: 1) formula-fed infants from birth to six months; 2) toddlers from 1- to 2-years old; and 3) all children from birth to 7-years old (EPA draft report).
BIGGER GOP EDGE COULD AFFECT ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS – Wisconsin Republicans riding their biggest Legislative majority in years could grow more ambitious this year in efforts to help businesses by remaking laws that protect natural resources. Legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker haven’t yet tipped their hands about all of their plans, but they have expressed interest in several proposals that are drawing strong opposition from conservationists. Lawmakers are working on measures to restrict the authority of regulatory agencies like the Department of Natural Resources, and to allow businesses easier access to the state’s water, land and minerals. http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/environment/bigger-gop-edge-could-affect-environmental-protections/article_3219b852-3ed8-558d-9ae0-c19a27b29718.html
WISCONSIN PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSIONS WILL RISE BASED ON GAINS FOR SWIB FUNDS – Retirees in Wisconsin who worked for a state or local government agency in most parts of the state can expect a small boost in their pension checks this spring. Retired public employees, whose pensions are paid through the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), will get a bump that averages at least $300 to $400 a year, starting in May, a state agency said Wednesday. The nearly 200,000 retirees receiving pensions from the retirement system’s Core Trust Fund are expected to receive a raise of between 1.3 percent and 1.9 percent this year, the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) said. http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-public-employee-pensions-will-rise/article_1cd20b11-0a70-5df5-a590-d646f0fd2014.html
VOLUNTEER WORKDAYS HELP BURN CALORIES WHILE CARING FOR STATE NATURAL AREAS – Looking to make good on your new year’s resolutions to get outside and get more exercise? Join in volunteer workdays at more than two dozen state natural areas to help care for and enjoy some of Wisconsin’s most pristine public lands. Morning workdays are held throughout the winter to cut brush and burn it at these sites, including four where new volunteer groups are forming or recently underway. New signup lists have been added for people interested in helping out at these sites in Crawford, Marquette, Pepin, and Winnebago counties. “Winter is a great time to get some exercise helping care for the state natural areas that belong to you,” says Jared Urban, who coordinates the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program for the Department of Natural Resources. http://dnr.wi.gov/news/Weekly/?id=571#art5
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