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  • FOCUS: First depletion of U.S. entitlement in 2016; others follow within 20 years

    Social Security and Medicare, the nation’s largest programs, claim 42% of federal expenditures. Due to demographic pressures and partisan stasis, the two programs’ three trust funds (OASI, DI, and HI) will be depleted within 20 years. Social Security’s small disability insurance fund (DI) faces depletion in 2016. Unless Congress acts, benefit payments would be cut almost 20%.

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  • FOCUS: Baby-boom fallout and more: Understanding teacher trends

    A demographic sea change is occurring as Badger baby-boomers retire and birth rates plateau. One example is the 4.0% drop in state teacher counts during 2004-14. Part of this is due to state law and declining enrollments (-1.6%). The bubble of teachers born during 1959-63 is also a factor. In 2004, that group numbered 11,175: due largely to retirement, it fell 83% by 2014.

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  • FOCUS: State budget footnotes: Of tax hikes, free rides, and future finances

    During and after passage of a state budget bill, lawmakers invariably ask the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to examine three aspects of the two-year tax-and-spending plan: tax and fee changes; non-fiscal “free-riders” tucked into the bill; and the impact, if any, that the new budget might have on its successor. The 2015-17 budget includes both tax and fee increases�"and a host of free riders.

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  • FOCUS: State property values continue slow climb back from recession lows

    The market value of Wisconsin property increased 2.4% this year to $490.7 billion. This was the second year of growth after five years of decline. Commercial and manufacturing values outperformed residential; farm and forest lands were weaker. Regionally, the west and northwest, along with the Madison area, outpaced statewide appreciation, while much of the lakeshore east was soft.

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  • FOCUS: State budget basics: A taxpayer’s crib sheet

    Wisconsin’s new 2015-17 budget spends $72.6 billion (b) from all sources, $32.9b from state general fund (GPR) revenues. It increases GPR spending 0.3% this year and 5.0% in 2017. Spending exceeds revenue by $30 million in 2017, but the budget remains balanced due to a tax-credit accounting trick. From 2011 through 2017, GPR expenditures will rise 20.1% from $13.6b to $16.4b.

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  • FOCUS: The new 2015-17 budget: Few tax changes, more tax collectors

    The 2015-17 budget is now law. With attention focused on gubernatorial proposals to reduce education funding and increase transportation bonding, the budget’s few tax changes were overlooked. The main source of new tax revenue ($113.5 million)�"and the main reason the budget is in the black�"comes from the governor adding 113 employees to boost business tax audits and debt collection.

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Increasing Complexity, Unplanned Change: The Story of School Finance in Wisconsin

Wisconsin spends more public dollars on K-12 education than any other program. However, due to its complex nature, school finance is not well understood. The complicated “three-legged stool” approach implemented in the mid-1990s was more about property tax control than school finance. Viewed as a property-tax relief plan, it was largely successful. However, recent tightening of state revenue limits has left some districts struggling to fund rising costs, such as utilities and transportation.

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Now Available: The WISTAX 2015-16 Legislative & Congressional Directory. Get Yours Today!

The all-new 2015-16 Legislative and Congressional Directory includes names, district maps, office phone numbers, home addresses and most recent election results for all 132 members of the Wisconsin legislature. It  also includes the names of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation, contact information and maps of their districts.


Every citizen's guide to the state budget process: The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government handbook

The best guide to Wisconsin state, county, city, village, town and school governments and budgets.

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