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  • The Puzzle That is Wisconsin Taxes

    State and local taxes totaled $27.9 billion in 2015, up 1.4% from last year. As a share of personal income, the state-local tax burden fell from 11.2% of income in 2014 to 11.0% in 2015. Local taxes, which fell from 4.1% to 3.9% of income, drove the decline. The state tax burden was unchanged at 7.1% of income. By comparison, federal tax collections rose to an estimated $52.1 billion and claimed 20.5% of income.

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  • FOCUS: County levies up 2%; total property taxes statewide up slightly more

    Based on levy increases of 2.1% for schools, 2.4% for technical colleges, and 2.0% for counties, it is estimated that 2015-16 property taxes statewide will increase about 2.2% when figures are finalized this spring. After state tax credits, the net increase will be somewhat over 1%. County property tax changes were mostly under 2%, though two counties had double-digit increases due to borrowing.

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  • FOCUS: Alphabet soup: New state CAFR shows increased “GAAP deficit”

    The state controller has released Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2015. Unlike state budgets susceptible to accounting tricks, the CAFR follows generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). It shows the state’s general fund GAAP deficit increased from under $1.4 billion (b) to almost $1.8b, third highest in the nation behind Illinois and California.

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  • FOCUS: Simple gifts Wisconsin politicians could give the people

    In a twist on the journalistic tradition of listing holiday gifts for elected officials, simple ideas for gifts that state politicians could actually give the people of Wisconsin are offered. These practical presents would encourage scrutiny of lawmaking, increase access to the state’s chief executive, and encourage greater contact and dialogue across the growing chasm between the parties.

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  • FOCUS: School, technical college tax increases somewhat higher in 2015-16

    Statewide, school property taxes for 2015-16 are up 2.1% to $4.85 billion, the largest increase since 2011 but below the 1997-2011 average (4.5%). In all, 275 districts raised taxes, while 143 cut them. Reasons for change included state-imposed revenue limits, voter approval of local referenda, and district-level changes in state aid. Technical college levies increased 2.4% to $416.7 million.

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  • FOCUS: How Wisconsin governments spend: Priorities and trends (II)

    In 1985-86, commissions named by Gov. Anthony Earl (D) termed Wisconsin a“high spending” state and suggested a goal of reaching U.S. expenditure averages by 1993. That did not happen then, but it occurred several times in the past decade. In 2013, the state was 2.3% above average by one measure; 2.4% below by another. Local governments led in expenditure restraint.

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The Property Tax No One Knows

Wisconsin’s personal property tax is unknown to most residents as it applies only to certain business property. The tax is riddled with exemptions, and the $287 million it now generates is about one-fourth the inflation-adjusted amount collected in 1971. The tax also raises questions about the consistent treatment of property; e.g., a chair owned by a business is taxed, but one owned by a homeowner is not.

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Now Available: SchoolFacts15. Get Yours Today!

SchoolFacts is Wisconsin’s most trusted, one-stop source of public school district information. This edition marks 20 years of providing reliable, factual information on topics ranging from district demography and finances to staffing and test scores. The book features 2013-14 actual and 2014-15 budgeted revenue and expenditure figures. Also includes information on staff sizes and ratios, property values, fund balances, student demography, and district characteristics.


A State Report Card

How are Wisconsin's economy, schools, and public sector doing?

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