What's New

  • Blog: On Surpluses, Deficits, and Imbalances

    The response to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s (LFB) recent memo about the state’s “structural deficit” has been overwhelming in volume and underwhelming in facts. Straightforward answers to some questions might be helpful.

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  • FOCUS: Candidates for elimination? Property taxes in 2015 (I)

    The property tax is Wisconsin’s oldest, and probably most unpopular tax. Property tax relief has been a campaign promise since statehood. Yet our property taxes remain 11th highest in the US and 25% above average. Special legislative committees are now studying an alternative to temporary relief--permanent elimination of the technical college and personal property tax levies.

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  • TAXPAYER: Issues for Voters, Questions for Candidates

    The November general election is fast approaching. Wisconsin voters will select a new legislature and there's also a race for governor. When these elected officials take office in January, they will have to tackle some pressing issues, including transportation finance, a slow-growing economy, and rising fiscal pressure on schools and local governments.

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  • FOCUS: Candidates for elimination? Property taxes in 2015 (II)

    In addition to technical college property taxes, the legislature is studying ending the personal property tax. The vast majority of personal property once taxed is now exempt. Today, the tax accounts for only 2.5% of all property tax revenue. Proponents of repeal argue the tax is unfair and inefficient. Opponents say it properly taxes businesses and produces hard-to-replace revenue.

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  • TAXPAYER: State Tax Rankings: Digging a Little Deeper

    State and local tax burdens are frequently compared and ranked, but the proverbial devil is often in the details. For example, at $20,000 of income, a family of four in Wisconsin had the 33rd highest income tax load in the U.S., but at $75,000 that burden was seventh highest. Similarly, an owner of a $150,000 house in Milwaukee paid $3,846 in 2012 property taxes, fourth highest among large cities across the nation, while a Rice Lake owner paid $3,229, seventh highest relative to other small-town homeowners.

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  • Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin 2014

    As schools open and thoughts return to tests and grades, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) has released the only “report card” that annually benchmarks the state’s performance. Among the report’s findings, employment has grown steadily since 2010 and the unemployment rate is down about two points since peaking in 2009.

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How Have Schools Fared?
Wisconsin vs. U.S.

When tax revenues dropped during the 2007-09 recession, Wisconsin school funding suffered; revenues were tightened, spending was cut, staff and compensation were reduced. However, new Census Bureau figures suggest that Wisconsin’s retrenchment was not unique. While many states made cuts during the entire 2008-12 period, Wisconsin’s revenue and spending reductions were concentrated in 2012.

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Constitutional Amendment: Transportation Fund

In addition to electing a new legislature and governor, Wisconsinites will vote on a constitutional amendment in this November’s election. State law considers gas taxes and various driver and vehicle registration fees as user charges to be held in a segregated transportation fund. If passed, the amendment would require that these revenues remain in the transportation fund and be used solely for transportation purposes. The amendment aims to prevent the transfer of transportation monies to other funds, as the state did for much of the prior decade to avoid general fund deficits. 

The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government textbook: What every civics teacher needs!

The only text on WI state, county, city, village, town and school governments. In paper or digital. Teacher tool kits available.

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