What's New

  • FOCUS: Pulling fingers from the property-tax pie: Tax reform in Wisconsin

    While Washington loudly talks the tax reform talk, with no promise of success, Wisconsin has quietly walked the property-tax reform walk by eliminating any state use of the tax and positioning it to end technical college and personal property taxes in a future state budget. Had that been in place now, levies would be about 7% lower and the number of governments using the tax less.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: First look “under the hood” (II): New 2017-19 state budget

    Disputes over transportation funding were the major factor in delaying the 2017-19 state budget. While the new budget reduces highway borrowing compared to prior budgets, it spends down most of a $145 million surplus, taps the general fund, delays several high-profile projects in the Milwaukee area, and likely sets the stage for a replay of the 2015 and 2017 “road wars” in 2019.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: First look “under the hood” (I): New 2017-19 state budget

    After a summer-long delay, Wisconsin has a new biennial budget. Before vetoes, it increases general fund spending 8.5% from an estimated $31.32 billion (b) in 2015-17 to $34.0b in 2017-19. The budget devotes about $2b in new revenues principally to three areas: school aids, Medicaid, and property tax relief. However, it spends $246.6 million more next year than estimated revenues.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: Rare survey: City-village officials speak out on finances, jobs, and the future

    With 600 cities and villages in Wisconsin, little was known about the challenges they collectively face until WISTAX surveyed them in 2016 and again in 2017. With state government freezing local aids, at best, and imposing limits on property tax growth, officials were asked to assess their financial health, local employment prospects, and the future challenges they face.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: Parting of the ways: Diverging growth in county property values

    Preliminary 2017 market values for Wisconsin property are out from the state. A decade after the last recession, statewide "equalized values" have finally surpassed their 2008 peak. However, the recovery is spotty: In 29 counties - mostly in the southeast, central Wisconsin, and the north - total values remain below 2008 levels. A similar pattern holds for residential property totals.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: While Washington slept: Experts see coming crises in U.S. entitlements, debt

    Attention focused on the short-term fate of "Obamacare," while reports on the troubled future of larger retirement and health programs and the federal budget went unnoticed. Social Security and Medicare trust funds will be depleted and benefit cuts would begin by 2035. Also by then, federal debt will reach record highs, exceeding the size of the U.S. economy and raising the likelihood of fiscal crisis.

    Continue Reading

Falling Behind? Post-Recession Recovery Leaves Out Some Counties

During 2009-16, Wisconsin’s economy generated more than 180,000 jobs, a 7% increase. That average masks economic weakness in several isolated parts of the state, particularly northern and central Wisconsin. Demographic trends indicate this will likely continue, while urban and suburban counties with access to major highways, university campuses, and high-speed Internet will flourish.

Continue Reading

Order now! The NEW Framework of Your Wisconsin Government - 19th Edition!

The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government is the only textbook that specifically teaches Wisconsin state and local government. Now in its 19th edition, the Framework has been the go-to text for more than 60 years for high school and college teachers, civic groups, and anyone who wants to learn more about how state and local government operate.
In 11 easy-to-read chapters with full-color photos and graphics, the Framework covers topics including:

  • Wisconsin history, population and economy;
  • State constitution, legislative, executive and judicial branches;
  • State budget and taxes;
  • Counties, cities, villages, and towns; their organization, duties, and funding sources;
  • K-12 schools and higher education institution;
  • Property taxes and other local taxes; and,
  • NEW in 2017: Native American Tribes and state-tribal relations.

Order your copy today!

State Debt Growth Slowing

State Debt and Annual Pct. Change

Learn More