What's New

  • FOCUS: 2013-14 legislature: The tax-cut session

    The 2013-14 Wisconsin legislature has gone home. More than its six predecessors, this legislature will be remembered for tax cuts. Over the past year, it cut 2013-15 taxes in three rounds by more than $1.2 billion. The cuts were facilitated by unexpected revenues and one-time surpluses. Whether they can be sustained beyond 2015 hinges on the domestic economy and global events.

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  • BLOG: School referenda pass at unprecedented rates

    In the two spring elections held this year (February and April), 44 Wisconsin school districts placed 56 referenda on the ballot, some to borrow and some to exceed state-imposed revenue limits. Voters passed them at rates significantly above historical norms.

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  • FOCUS: The issue that may disappear: Sales taxes and the Internet

    Researchers put Wisconsin’s 2012 sales tax losses from Internet sales at as much as $140 million. However, with over 30% of Internet sales not subject to Wisconsin tax and a surprising number of online retailers already collecting, the estimated loss is likely too high. Now that Amazon has begun collecting tax in Wisconsin, lost revenue could be as low as $25 million in 2014.

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  • BLOG: Good news, bad news on the income front

    New federal figures show Wisconsin per capita income growth was 7th highest nationally in 2013. However, total income and earnings growth in all 50 states was lower in 2013 than in 2012.

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  • TAXPAYER: Investigating Local Law Enforcement

    In 2012, Wisconsin’s 297 individual and seven joint municipal police departments protected 3.8 million of Wisconsin’s 5.7 million residents. These departments employed an average of 2.03 full-time officers per 1,000 residents. Municipal spending on local law enforcement averaged $223 per capita in 2011. National figures show Wisconsin ranked 12th among the states in local law enforcement expenditures and 23rd in full-time officers per capita.

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  • TAXPAYER: The County Sales Tax

    This year, 62 of the state’s 72 counties will impose the optional 0.5% sales tax. However, slow growth in statewide sales tax collections since 2000 raises issues about their reliability. During 2000-12, collections in 17 counties rose less than 20%, and they declined in two. In Burnett, Marquette, Price, Rusk, and Shawano counties, collections were the most variable, rising in six years and declining in six.

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To Exceed or Not To Exceed?

Since 1994, Wisconsin school districts have held almost 950 referenda to exceed state-imposed revenue caps. In 2013, 89% were nonrecurring (for a limited time), a reversal from 1994-98 when less than 20% were. During 1994-2013, voters approved 56% of nonrecurring referenda, but only 34% of recurring (permanent) ones.

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