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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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  • 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" - Alan Jay Lerner

    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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States Race for Federal Money: Wisconsin Continues to Lag

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.

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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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