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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Don’t Believe the Hype – Millennials’ Transportation Habits Are Changing | Sean Doyle

Despite news stories claiming that Millennials are buying up cars at record rates, the reality is quite different. After adjusting previous studies to account for differences in the size of the generations measured, on a per-capita basis, Millennials are 29 percent less likely than members of Generation X to own a car.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Public Interest Group, Local Doctor and Farmer Call on Culver’s to Help Save Antibiotics

Today WISPIRG Foundation staff and volunteers launched a new consumer campaign that will call on Culver’s, home to the regionally renowned Butterburger, to stop selling meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics. UW Professor Emerita Carol Spiegel and Sauk County farmer Jim Goodman spoke about the urgent need to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use on livestock, and about how doing so will help preserve these life-saving medicines for future generations.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Our new "CFPB Can Help" video is live | Ed Mierzwinski

Please like and share our new video short (it's less than a minute) letting consumers know how the "CFPB can help." The CFPB, of course, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established as part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Breaking the Silence on Transportation and the Climate

Transportation policy-makers in most states and at the federal level have simply never seen it as their business to consider, much less act to reduce, the climate impacts of their infrastructure investment decisions. The Obama administration’s actions last week, however tentative, suggest that that is about to change.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Johnson Controls here in Wisconsin – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by WISPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Survey: Wisconsin Brain Drain Partly Because Youth Seek Alternatives to Driving?

For the last decade, Wisconsin has been experiencing a “brain drain,” with more college graduates leaving the state than staying. One factor could be our crumbling transit infrastructure and lack of driving alternatives, according to a new WISPIRG Foundation report.  The new survey revealed that most Wisconsin college students want the ability to get around without a car, and many may leave Wisconsin without that option. This demand starkly contrasts with Wisconsin transportation policies, which often favor extravagant highway expansion projects over critical transit upgrades.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Tax

New Report: Offshore Tax Dodging Hurts Wisconsin Taxpayers, Businesses

A new report by WISPIRG estimates the fiscal impact of closing one loophole in the state tax code on Wisconsin taxpayers and the services they depend on, including education, public safety, and transportation. The report, The Tax Haven Tradeoff: How Offshore Tax Haven Abuse Hurts Wisconsin Taxpayers and Businesses, found that closing the “water’s edge” loophole would save Wisconsin taxpayers $28.8 million annually. 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Wisconsin Taxpayer $1054 a Year, Wisconsin Small Business $3966

A new study released by WISPIRG revealed that the average Wisconsin taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,054 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. 

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

New Report: Wisconsin Receives "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Wisconsin received a “A-“ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the WISPIRG Foundation. 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

What America could do with $150 billion lost to offshore tax havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. By shielding their income from U.S. taxes, corporations and wealthy individuals shift the tax burden to ordinary Americans, who must pick up the tab in the form of cuts to public services, more debt, or higher taxes. The $150 billion lost annually to offshore tax havens is a lot of money, especially at a time of difficult budget choices. To put this sum in perspective, we present 16 potential ways that income could be used.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2012

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, WISPIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Big Banks, Bigger Fees 2012

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the state PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees.  Over the last six months, state PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 250 bank and 116 credit union branches in 17 states and the District of Columbia and reviewed bank fees online in these and 7 other states.

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Report | WISPIRG and Demos | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Post-Election Spending Analysis

New analysis of Federal Election Commission data through Election Day shows that just a few big outside spenders drowned out small donors in the 2012 election cycle. The Supreme Court's Citizens United allows wealthy special interests to amplify their voices far above the average citizen. This will continue the cycle of major donors receiving the greatest political access and setting the agenda for our government in Washington and in Madison, interfering with our government's ability to function in the best interests of the public at-large.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

Leaving Taxpayers in the Dark

Despite legislative efforts at improvement since 2007, Wisconsin’s economic development subsidies lack transparency and accountability. According to the most recent data on the state website, over $414 million in business subsidies were dispensed in calendar years 2009 and 2010: a mixture of grants, loans, tax credits, and revenue bonds. But very little information is available about the goals of these subsidy programs, the outcomes at companies who receive them, or the benefit to the Wisconsin taxpayers who pay for them.

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Blog Post | Public Health

The Phantom, and Other Menaces | Anya Vanecek

In the midst of warnings that the post-antibiotic era is quickly approaching, we see evidence that it has already arrived.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Pulling a FAST one on our Transportation Future | Sean Doyle

For the first time in a decade, and after roughly three dozen short-term extensions, Congress has pulled together and passed a transportation-funding law lasting longer than two years. There is only one problem: the new law is the wrong deal for the country.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Not-so-secret-Santas in Congress Using Spending Bill To Roll Back Health, Safety, Wallet Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

With spending authorization for the federal government set to end on December 11, Congressional leaders are working with powerful special interests on their not-so-Secret-Santa lists to use spending bills as vehicles to gut health, safety and wallet protections popular with the general public but not with Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they’re loading up the must-pass funding bill with so-called “riders,” which are unrelated policies that couldn’t get passed on their own. Everything we fought for in Wall Street reform, including the CFPB, is on the chopping block. So are many other PIRG health, safety, wallet and democracy priorities.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation policy is health policy | Sean Doyle

While transportation is often just thought of as how we get from point A to point B, the way we choose to do so can have important consequences on our physical health, air quality, safety, the development of our cities, and how we interact within them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

30 Years of "Trouble in Toyland," 30 Years of Safety Improvements | Anna Low-Beer

Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund releases Trouble in Toyland, a report on toy safety which examines toys bought at major national retailers, looking for safety hazards including toxic toys, choking hazards, labeling violations, powerful magnets, and excessibely loud toys. We continue to find these hazards on store shelves, which indicates the need for continued vigilance and adequate enforcement of safety regulations. But despite lingering dangers, in the last 30 years, we've come a long way in terms of both policy and compliance with standards.

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Priority Action

We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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