What's New

  • 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.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: Wisconsin’s only “report card” assesses state competitive position

    For the 15th consecutive year, WISTAX researchers have prepared an annual report card assessing state performance on 33 measures ranging from state finances and tax burden to school outcomes and firm creation. Over the past five years, per capita personal income increased faster in Wisconsin than nationally. However, venture capital payouts here continue to lag the US.

    Continue Reading
  • TAXPAYER: A Closer Look at Public Debt

    While federal debt continues to climb, Wisconsin’s state-local debt situation is showing some signs of improvement. Combined state-local debt grew 0.3% in 2013, its smallest increase since 2008. State debt here totaled $13.7 billion, up 1.6% from 2012. Local debt fell 1.0% to $13.7 billion, its second consecutive decline. School, county, village, and town debt all declined last year.

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: Spending and saving, 2013-15: Comparing the 50 states

    During the recession, states cut spending and raided reserves. With the uneven recovery, they slowly returned to budget stability. In fiscal 2014 and 2015, the 50 states combined are increasing general fund spending 5.0% and 2.9%, respectively. Comparable figures for Wisconsin are 4.7% and 5.8%. Both Wisconsin and other states also rebuilt reserves but are now spending them down.

    Continue Reading
  • BLOG: Examining safety nets

    By one measure, Wisconsin has the 16th most-generous social safety net, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. At $16,241 per person, average benefits in Wisconsin from 10 federal and/or state programs were higher than in Michigan ($12,812) and Illinois ($13,103), but lower than in Iowa ($17,760) and Minnesota ($21,450).

    Continue Reading
  • FOCUS: State economic growth: Facts to assess candidate rhetoric

    Jobs are a focus of the 2014 campaign, but candidate rhetoric on the subject often warrants scrutiny. Voters might want to know that Wisconsin’s economic course generally follows the nation’s. During 1998-2013, state gross domestic product (GDP) per capita grew an average of 3.3% per year vs. 3.5% for the US. That placed Wisconsin in the middle 10 of the 50 states.

    Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government textbook: Order now for Fall classes!

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

Learn More

MunicipalFacts14 now available!

MunicipalFacts14 examines patterns and trends in municipal finance for 244 of Wisconsin's most populous cities and villages.

Included in the analysis are expenditures, property taxes and values, shared revenues, debt, and income for communities with populations between 2,000 and 150,000. Because of their size and unique characteristics, Milwaukee and Madison are excluded.

We rely on contributions from supporters to fund our nonprofit, nonpartisan educational work. We are grateful for their sponsorship and we especially thank Walmart for underwriting MunicipalFacts14.