3rd Quarter 2018 President’s Message

By Rob Henken

It’s election season in Wisconsin, and with two tight statewide races and a number of spirited battles for congressional and legislative offices, that means nonstop candidate advertising, mailings, and phone calls.

As is par for the course, many of these communications take quotes and votes out of context to negatively portray candidates. Slightly less disconcerting are those messages that make pie-in-the-sky promises while providing little detail on how they can be kept.

It’s particularly at times like these – when Wisconsin residents are most in need of impartial, fact-based perspective – that the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s value is most pronounced.

Are you seeking information on the issues the gubernatorial candidates should be discussing? Check out The 2018 State Elections, our August report describing 10 such issues and providing important data and context.

Looking for an objective assessment of the state’s current fiscal condition? Read A State Fiscal Checkup, our February report that assessed Wisconsin’s financial health by measuring progress on key fiscal metrics and comparing our performance to other states.

Wondering what’s going on with local property taxes, and how cities and villages are faring in delivering key services? Peruse any of a number of our recent reports, like MunicipalFacts 18, our annual fact book on Wisconsin’s cities and villages; A Growing Divide, our June report detailing the impacts of municipal levy limits; or, for a more detailed case study, Living Within its Means, our April report on the City of Racine’s fiscal condition.

Trying to grasp the controversial issues surrounding Milwaukee’s K-12 schools and which of the candidates’ campaign pronouncements are most relevant? Read our May MPS Budget Brief or A Teachable Moment, our August report explaining the complexities of Milwaukee’s charter school landscape.

It’s unfortunate but inevitable that campaigns for elected office will be marked by mudslinging and mischaracterization. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here: to help citizens and elected officials sort through the campaign rhetoric and make the best-informed decisions possible.

While campaign advertising has its place, complex policy issues require objective and fact-based analysis. Our merger of the Public Policy Forum and Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance now gives us the research capacity to deliver such analysis on issues of importance to voters across the state.

If you’ve grown tired of the cynicism of election season and your inner policy wonk is seeking headier discussion of important issues, we hope you’ll check out our recent research on our new website.

It may not beat watching the Packers or Brewers, but it may provide needed reassurance that thoughtful and impartial policy analysis still exists in today’s highly polarized and politicized world.