Governor Walker announces veto to save Pres House exemption!

Read the Wisconsin State Journal Article announcing the veto.

Here at Pres House we’re praising GOD and writing to thank YOU because the effort to retain Pres House’s property tax exemption succeeded! I am relieved and grateful to report that Governor Walker has announced a veto of the repeal of our property tax exemption! This means that current law remains in place and our exemption is secure. The contacts made by Pres House supporters like you throughout the past six weeks were vital to retaining this exemption. Legislators and the Governor heard from you about how important Pres House is. Thank you for your help!

This excellent news makes it possible for Pres House to continue its mission of meeting spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With the exemption in place we can return to focusing on expanding our ministry to students on campus.

The worshiping community at Pres House grew this past year for the seventh year in a row and we look forward to new students arriving in the fall.. At the Pres House Apartments, our efforts to provide a safe and welcoming home grounded in the love of God now can continue. It can continue to be a place where growth is nurtured and encouraged and where students of any faith or none can engage together in an intentional journey toward wholeness.

A great deal of prayer and effort went into retaining the property tax exemption in the face of this major challenge. Here is a brief summary of what happened in the past six weeks:

May 12: We received a call from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel informing us that the Joint Finance Committee, Co-chaired by Rep. Robin Vos and Sen. Alberta Darling, had with no warning voted to eliminate Pres House’s property tax exemption. We learned that the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin had asked for the repeal.

May 13-June 13: Pres House worked tirelessly to educate legislators about the damage this move would make to an important campus ministry and to counteract numerous mischaracterizations made about Pres House. Hundreds of supporters contacted their legislators asking them to remove this provision before passing the budget. Rep. Don Pridemore and Sen. Leah Vukmir spearheaded an effort to take the repeal out of the budget.

June 14-16: Despite broad support for Pres House, the State Legislature voted to pass the budget with the repeal in place (though they extended the effective date for the repeal to 2013). We believe we came close to getting it removed completely but were unable to overcome the momentum in such a short period of time. Five legislators visited Pres House personally and all expressed enthusiasm for what they saw.

June 17-24: Pres House asked Governor Walker for a line-item veto of the repeal. Twenty legislators signed a bi-partisan letter requesting a veto from the Governor: Rep. Tyler August (R), Rep. Gary Bies (R), Rep. Brett Hulsey (D), Rep. Joe Knilans (R), Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R), Rep. Bill Kramer (R), Rep. Tom Larson (R), Rep. Al Ott (R), Rep. Jim Ott (R), Rep. Warren Petryk (R), Rep. Don Pridemore (R), Rep. Keith Ripp (R), Rep. Roger Rivard (R), Rep. Travis Tranel (R), Rep. Mary Williams (R), Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D), Sen. Bob Jauch (D), Sen. Fred Risser (D), Sen. Leah Vukmir (R), Sen. Van Wanggaard (R). The Moderator, Executive Director, and Stated Clerk of the national office of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., along with the Synod Executive and Executive Presbyters from all four Wisconsin presbyteries wrote a letter to the Governor asking for a veto. Hundreds of pastors, Pres House students, parents, alumni, and friends wrote, emailed, and called the Governor expressing support for a veto.

June 24: Governor Walker announces a veto of the repeal of the Pres House property tax exemption before signing the 2011-13 Budget Bill into law.

Please take a moment to drop a note of thanks to Governor Walker  (govgeneral [at] for supporting Pres House in this way.  If you are represented by one of the legislators listed here thank them also.

In the coming months and years, we look forward to sharing with you stories of God’s work in the lives of students through the ministry of Pres House. Thank you so much for your calls and letters and for your role in keeping the Pres House ministry alive and strong.

In God’s service,

Rev. Mark Elsdon
Campus Co-Pastor and Executive Director
Pres House
731 State St.
Madison WI 53703