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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • TAXPAYER: The Impending Storm

    The impending retirement of the baby-boom generation will have significant effects on Wisconsin’s economy over the next 30 years. As this large cohort retires, the size of Wisconsin’s workforce will stall; the working-age population is expected to decline 0.2% between 2010 and 2040. Only 21 of the state’s 72 counties are expected to see increases in residents ages 20 to 64, and only six will see increases of more than 10%. Working-age populations are expected to drop more than 10% in 13 northern counties.

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  • FOCUS: Fall candidate numbers off: Fiscal and political implications?

    The slate of legislative candidates for forthcoming state elections is now set. The 2014 campaign features fewer candidates (246) than 2010 (314) or 2012 (297). Numbers are particularly down for the assembly (208 vs. 273 in 2010 and 261 in 2012). Of 116 legislative races, 40 feature only one candidate, and 55 feature only one major party candidate.

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  • 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).

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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.

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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.   

The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government Order now for Fall 2014 classes!

The only textbook covering Wisconsin state, county, city, village, town and school governments. It tells how our government is supposed to work. It comes in paper and digital formats. There are teacher tool kits available with Power Poiints, quizzes, study guides and keys for every chapter.

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