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  • FOCUS: Local property taxpayers pushing back against state fiscal mandates?

    In recent years, state leaders have pledged to “freeze” or cut local property taxes. Since they don’t levy local taxes, state officials accomplish this indirectly by mandating limits on school revenues and local levies. In recent years, school referenda overriding these limits have become more numerous and are mostly passing. Are local taxpayers reasserting their right to local control?

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  • FOCUS: "It's May, it's May, the month of yes you may"

    In 2011 and again in 2013, revenue estimates revised upward in May gave lawmakers leeway to pad spending or cut taxes. Facing gubernatorial cuts to education and high levels of highway bonding, they hoped higher May reestimates would again rescue them. WISTAX and national research both show, however, that state tax revenues are becoming more volatile and forecasts less reliable.

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  • TAXPAYER: Chipping Away at Tradition: Constitutional Offices Past and Present

    When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, the new constitution created six positions to be elected statewide: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and the superintendent of public instruction. As time passed, the duties and responsibilities of these offices have evolved and, in some cases, eroded. Some question whether or not all these offices need to be elected.

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  • FOCUS: The 2015-17 state budget (II): Basic nuts and bolts

    Lawmakers have begun review of the governor’s proposed 2015-17 budget. Although they will focus on program details, several basic budget figures also merit attention. First, the pending budget has slim balances - "less than 1% of spending, levels last seen during 2001-11. Contingency reserves are also modest. The state’s GAAP deficits, which had fallen from $3.0b to $1.4b, would grow to $2.0b.

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  • FOCUS: The 2015-17 state budget (I): Getting to now

    To understand the pending 2015-17 budget, one must understand its roots. This year, state spending will exceed revenues by as much as $800 million. As a result, the $759 million surplus of two years ago is gone. The state expects over $1.9 billion in new tax revenues during 2015-17, but most of that will be used to fix carryover budget imbalances, or to fund Medicaid and property tax credits.

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  • BLOG: Rising transportation debt service crowds out local aids

    State highways and local transportation aids are Wisconsin's two largest transportation expenditures. An important development over the past 15 years has been debt service "crowding out" those aids.

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The Spending No One Sees: The Rising Costs of Wisconsin's Tax Expenditures

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 even though each has a cost.

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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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