News – January 21, 2009

Now the Tough Part Begins for Obama

1/21/09 – The real work begins today for President Barack Obama and his new administration. Governor Jim Doyle says people understand the “huge challenge” Obama has inherited, and it will take him time to get going. Last night, Doyle joined thousands from Wisconsin and the region at the official Midwest Inaugural Ball in Washington. Vice-president Joe Biden told the crowd that he and Obama will start making history today. Niel Ritchie, who owns a cabin in Hayward, called the gala event “perfect.” Governor Doyle said the most moving part of Obama’s inaugural speech was when he spoke directly to the world about America’s new leadership. Back in Wisconsin, newspapers printed extra copies for people to buy as keep-sakes. And while thousands attended special viewings, many paused to watch the inaugural from work, school, or home. Thirty Dane County jail inmates in Madison crowded around a T-V to listen to Obama – and a veteran guard said she never heard it any quieter.

Stimulus Package Could Cut State Budget Deficit

1/21/09 – The federal economic stimulus package that’s brewing in Congress could help Wisconsin wipe out more than half its budget deficit. State budget director David Schmiedicke says around two-and-a-half billion dollars in stimulus money could help pay for health care and education in the Badger State. And another 575-million may arrive in the form of transportation projects. But even if Washington provides three-billion, that still leaves a deficit of two-point-four billion to be closed with state spending cuts and tax increases. Legislative finance committee co-chair Mark Pocan of Madison said there are still more questions-than-answers about the federal aid the state might get. Pocan says his fellow legislators and Governor Jim Doyle are working on their own stimulus package that could be ready by early next month. Pocan, a Democrat, says it would loosen procedures to make it easier to spend the federal money. It would also boost job training programs and address tax fairness issues. Pocan didn’t say what those issues were, but some lawmakers have talked about clamping down on tax-sheltering practices by corporations.

Foreclosures Up Throughout our Area in ‘08

1/21/09 – The number of foreclosures in Dodge County for 2008 was up 22-percent over the previous year. According to the States Clerk of Courts, there were 409 foreclosures last year, 73 more than in ‘07. Most of the surrounding counties saw similar increases. Columbia County was up 24-percent to 300 for the year, while Jefferson checked in with 59 more foreclosures in ‘08, a 22-percent increase. Washington County saw a 20-percent increase to 418 foreclosures. Fond du Lac was the only county in our area that did not see a huge increase. They were up just 3-percent, but that put the total number of foreclosures at 334. Statewide foreclosures were up 21-percent, and only 4 counties saw a decrease last year. The biggest increase was seen in Adams County where there were 80-percent more foreclosures last year than 2007.