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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

Report: Mistaken Identity Tops Debt Collection Complaints

Debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person were the top source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released by the WISPIRG Foundation. The report also found that Wisconsin consumers are 40th most likely to file complaints to the CFPB about debt collection, and that debt collection is a top source of complaints.  The report is the final in a series of reports by the WISPIRG Foundation that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database. The CFPB began accepting complaints in July 2011 and now accepts complaints about most financial products and services. Although the CFPB only opened its doors to complaints about debt collection last July, complaints about debt collection have already outpaced those for common products such as credit cards and bank accounts, accounting for the second largest portion of complaints after mortgages between July and January.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Citizens United Resolution Introduced in State Senate

State leaders in the Senate have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 68 (SJR68) that, if passed, would bring a statewide referendum to voters in November 2014 asking whether Wisconsin elected leaders should support a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

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Report | WISPIRG | Tax

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

Every year, corporations use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars. But they use tax havens to escape supporting these public structures and benefits.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Tax

Wisconsin could save $27.6 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

Wisconsin taxpayers could save $27.6 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging, according to “Closing The Billion-Dollar Loophole: How States Are Reclaiming Revenue Lost to Offshore Tax Havens,” a new report released by WISPIRG. The reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.  The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that this simple reform would increase state corporate income and franchise tax revenues by $28.8 million.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Course

Across America, colleges and universities are showing that efforts aimed at reducing driving deliver powerful benefits for students, staff and surrounding communities. Policymakers at all levels of government should be looking to the innovative examples of these campuses. Universities and college towns also provide useful models for expanding the range of transportation options available to Americans while addressing the transportation challenges facing our communities.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Coalition Urges Senate to Reject AB225, ‘More Big Money in Politics’ Bill

A broad statewide coalition of citizen and public interest organizations are calling on the state Senate to reject AB225, a bill that would double contributions limits to Wisconsin political campaigns and allow big money to further drown out the voices of Wisconsin voters. 
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to WISPIRG’s new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.” Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.
 

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Media Hit | Health Care

Using 'Pay for Delay,' Big Pharma Pockets $98 Billion

What if I told you that major pharmaceutical companies had paid off their competition to delay the release of lower-cost generic drugs for 20 major pharmaceuticals? And that combined, brand name drug companies made an estimated $98 billion in total sales of these 20 drugs while the generic versions were delayed? Unfortunately, it’s true, and it means that too many sick Wisconsinites either can’t afford the prescription medication they need, or are paying 10 times too much.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Money OUT, Voters IN Wisconsin stands with legislative leaders against Citizens United

The Money OUT, Voters IN Wisconsin coalition, comprised of 32 organizations committed to combating the influence of big special interest money in elections, joined State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) today in Madison to announce the introduction of a resolution (LRB 1457/5) to place a referendum on the November, 2014, statewide ballot allowing the voters of Wisconsin to be heard on the issue of Citizens United. State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) will introduce the resolution in the State Senate.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

WISPIRG Statement on Introduction of Wisconsin Citizens United Resolution

The first post-Citizens United major election in November 2012 confirmed our fears that the new campaign finance system allows well-heeled special interests and secret spenders to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.  The people of Wisconsin deserve to have our say in whether this is the democracy we want. 
 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over.  Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton’s first term. The unique combina­tion of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom—from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation—no longer exists.

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Report | WISPIRG | Consumer Protection

The Rent-to-Own Rip-off

The 2013-2015 biennial executive budget, proposed by Governor Walker, includes an exemption for the rent-to-own industry from Wisconsin’s consumer protection laws. Rent-to-own businesses are appliance and furniture retailers that arrange “lease agreements,” rather than typical installment or credit sales contracts. These leases are regulated as a form of credit because the consumer is buying a product over time and paying a very high premium over the product’s sale price.

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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

The 10% Solution

Wisconsin taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on unnecessary and costly highway expenditures, when local transportation infrastructure is crumbling.  Unfortunately, the transportation budget being considered by state leaders increases spending on highways while neglecting local needs.  It’s time to get our transportation priorities straight and invest taxpayer dollars wisely, maintaining a modern highway system while meeting local road repair and transit needs. The 10% Solution offers a budget alternative that achieves these goals.
 

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Report | WISPIRG | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2013

Many multinational corporations and wealthy Americans use accounting tricks and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes on profits and income that they earned in the U.S. Right now these practices are perfectly legal - and that's the problem. Revenues that are earned from sales and work here in the United States are hidden overseas and it costs the U.S. up to $150 billion in lost tax revenue every single year.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

Following the Money 2013

Wisconsin received an “F” for government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the WISPIRG Foundation. 
 

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