Focus

Focus #15

2019

Troubling trends in Wisconsin: Life expectancy down; alcohol, drug and suicide deaths up

Life expectancy in Wisconsin has declined slightly for the second straight year, mirroring a national trend and marking a disturbing shift from the longstanding expectation that newborn babies could be expected to live as long or longer than those born before them. Of particular concern are the state’s rates of death due to alcohol, among black residents and people in their 20s and 30s, and due to opioid drugs -- especially in Milwaukee County. ...Read More
Focus #14

2019

Improving Access to Child Care for Low-Income Families in Wisconsin

For a growing number of low-income families, Wisconsin’s child care subsidy program is falling short of providing affordable care. Both the governor and Republican legislators proposed remedies as part of the 2019-21 state budget, though neither side called for the resources needed to meet a challenging federal benchmark for access. ...Read More
Focus #13

2019

Vaping trend a new cloud in state tobacco tax debate

With e-cigarette use soaring, especially among teens, Wisconsin is joining the fast-growing ranks of states that target them for taxation. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers recently signed into law a plan put forward by Republicans controlling the state Legislature that imposes an excise tax on e-cigarette fluid—albeit at a rate tied for the lowest of any state that taxes it. The move comes as Wisconsin’s tax collections from traditional cigarettes, on which it relies more heavily than most states, continue to decline. ...Read More
Focus #12

2019

Both Budgets Backtrack on State Reserves

GOP lawmakers dialed back both the state spending – and tax increases – in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, but left one aspect of the 2019-21 proposal largely the same: a drawdown of hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves in the state’s main fund. ...Read More
Focus #11

2019

Fees take on increased importance for local governments

With rising costs in areas like fringe benefits and infrastructure, stagnant state aids, and restrictions on property tax levies and other local taxes, municipalities and counties in Wisconsin are challenged in addressing their budget pressures. Our latest research finds, however, that they have increasingly turned to fees for services – also known as charges – to support their operations. ...Read More
Focus #10

2019

Wisconsin’s Brain Drain Problem

People who move away from Wisconsin tend to be more highly educated than those who stay in the state or those who move here from elsewhere. Recent policy proposals from both Democrats and Republicans have sought to retain college graduates,...Read More
Focus #9

2019

Is the Unemployment Fund Job Ready?

The state’s once indebted unemployment fund has made a significant recovery in recent years, rising from a negative balance of more than $1 billion at the end of 2010 to a positive one of more than $1.7 billion at the...Read More
Focus #8

2019

Reroute for Transit

The governor’s budget would increase state spending on public transit after years of flat funding. His bill would be helpful for Milwaukee County, which has struggled for years to maintain existing transit services and to replace aging buses. The proposals...Read More
Focus #7

2019

Voters Approve More School Spending, But Some Referenda Fail

In recent years, Wisconsin voters have approved school district spending referenda in record numbers. Results for this spring’s vote still show support for many of these proposals—particularly for operating expenses—but some big-ticket items were rejected. The outcome of this year’s...Read More