What's New

  • FOCUS: Always on the state budget stage: The struggle to control property taxes

    While other issues dominated the state’s 2015-17 budget drama, concern over local property taxes always lurked in the wings. New, final figures from the state show the 2014-15 net levy was $9.49 billion, a 2.3% drop from 2013-14. As a share of state personal income, this year’s levy was 3.6%, the lowest percentage since 1946. State-mandated levy and revenue controls were the main cause.

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  • TAXPAYER: States Race for Federal Money

    In 2013, federal spending in Wisconsin was slightly more than the amount state residents and business paid in federal taxes. However, on a per capita basis, federal spending here trailed the U.S. average by nearly 17%: The Badger State ranked 47th among the 50 states. Social Security and Medicare payments to the elderly are the largest component of federal spending. However, lack of federal aid to state and local governments here is one of the reasons Wisconsin’s total taxes were 12th highest in 2012.

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  • FOCUS: Transportation finance (II): On revenues, politics, and economic impact

    One of the lead obstacles to passing a 2015-17 state budget on time is transportation finance. The options are stark, and all are unpleasant: high levels of borrowing with unsustainable levels of debt service, politically unpalatable increases in stagnant-to-declining gas taxes or vehicle fees, or delaying road reconstruction that could have long-term economic impacts.

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  • FOCUS: Transportation finance (I): Borrowing divides GOP, slows budget

    The legislature’s 2015-17 budget work was temporarily derailed by transportation finance, long a problem that still needs a sustainable solution. The governor prefers to borrow $1.3 billion, while GOP lawmakers balk. Meanwhile, debt service is about to claim one-fifth of transportation fund revenues, a higher share than interest costs associated with the overall debt.

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  • FOCUS: Lawmakers finishing fixes to governor’s budget (if economy cooperates)

    The state legislature is completing three months of review and overhaul of the governor’s 2015-17 budget. Recent signs that the U.S. economy is slowing could require a second look, however. If growth in state tax revenues were even one-half point below the rates anticipated last January, state leaders could return to Madison next year to news of a possible general fund deficit in 2017.

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  • TAXPAYER: The Spending No One Sees

    Like the federal tax code, Wisconsin’s tax laws are filled with exclusions, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Once passed into law, they are often forgotten by lawmakers. Yet, these “tax expenditures” have a variety of impacts, such as shifting the tax burden and putting upward pressure on tax rates. They also have a tax “cost” that is reported biennially in a little-read state publication “Tax Exemption Devices.”

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How Do Towns Measure Up? A Closer Look At Town Finance

The town meeting, where voters set the property tax levy, decide compensation for town offices, and adopt plans for the election of the town board, is one of the few remaining examples of direct democracy in the U.S. As a result, town finances often differ from those of cities and villages. Towns typically spend and borrow less per resident than other municipalities and draw their revenues from a smaller pool of resources.

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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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