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Postal rate hike to impact Wisconsin's paper and printing industry

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin's paper-and-printing industries say they'll be hurt by a postal rate hike endorsed yesterday by a U-S Senate committee. The governmental affairs panel voted to make a temporary two-year postage rate increase permanent. It took effect January 26th, and was designed to cut the massive financial losses in the U-S Postal Service. It came soon after another rate hike for inflation, making the total increase 6-percent.

First-class postage rose by 3-cents an ounce to 49-cents.

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted against sending the permanent increase to the full Senate, saying it would hurt the state's paper-makers and magazine printers. Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson is also on the panel. He voted in favor of the package, saying the rate hikes are needed to avoid a future taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service.

The Quad-Graphics printing firm in Sussex says postage now accounts for over half the average cost of a magazine and catalog. Company C-E-O Joel Quadracci says the Senate bill will result in lower mail volumes, thus making the financial problems of the Postal Service worse. Steve Brocker of the Western States Envelope-and-Label Company says large corporate mailers will look for other ways to get their messages out. He says there's no way they could budget for such a large postal increase.

The Senate panel did limit future postage hikes to inflation -- and it shot down efforts to end regulatory oversight of the Postal Service.