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  • FOCUS: “Scoop and toss”: State again uses financial move to push debt into future

    In the past two decades, governors have restructured state debt in a way that generates funds for the cash-strapped general fund in the short-term while increasing state borrowing costs in the long run. Since 2000, these debt maneuvers have occurred 16 times for a total of $1.66 billion. This May, the state decided to forgo retiring $101 million in debt in favor of issuing new bonds to be repaid by 2024 at a total cost of $103.3 million. Some in Madison have termed the practice “scoop and toss.”

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  • TAXPAYER: One Hundred Years and Counting: Wisconsin’s Income Tax: History, Process, and Filers

    Wisconsin became the first state to tax income in 1911. Now, the income tax generates $7.3 billion annually, or about half of state general fund revenue. In 2014, two-thirds of filers had incomes under $50,000 and paid 9.4% of taxes. A majority of income (52.2%) and taxes (56.7%) can be attributed to the 31% of filers in the $50,000-to-$200,000 income range. Those with incomes over $200,000 filed 2.5% of returns but paid more than one-third (33.9%) of taxes. Across all income groups, the average effective income tax rate was 4.2%.

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  • FOCUS: School districts exceeding state revenue limits by referendum, or . . .

    For more than 20 years, state law has imposed revenue limits on school districts that local voters could increase by referendum. Until 2010, passage was a 50-50 proposition, but approval rates have since increased, topping 80% this year. In a new development, a small but growing number of districts are using a state exception to exceed the “caps” without having to ask for voter consent.

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  • FOCUS: Could national politics affect state balance of power and 2017-19 budget?

    Republicans control both houses of the legislature with comfortable majorities. However, if the presidential race now in disarray alters customary turnout and party preference patterns, the result could have ripple effects “down-ballot.” And, if an unexpectedly large number of state lawmakers is swept aside, the balance of power and 2017 budget-writing environment in Madison could both shift.

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  • BLOG: Federal Income Tax Facts

    With campaign season in full swing and candidates releasing income tax information, it is useful to have federal tax data to provide context.

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  • FOCUS: State income tax story: Lessons about rates, wants, and inflation

    Wisconsin created the first state income tax in 1911. After 50 years, collections topped $150 million; today, they exceed $7 billion. Collections surged during the 1960-2000 period. Revenue wants grew, marginal tax rates increased, first at high-income levels, then at all levels. And aggressive inflation with “bracket creep” meant the highest tax rates applied to filers at lower and lower income levels.

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The Ups and Downs of State Fiscal Health

Wisconsin’s official financial statements are unknown to most residents, but they contain information that can be used to measure state fiscal health over months, a year, or much longer. A review of these reports shows fiscal health eroding during 2002-09 and then improving. Nevertheless, despite recent gains, the Badger State ranked 37th among the states in 2013 in overall fiscal condition, based on an average of fiscal measures covering multiple time frames.

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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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