News & Updates | 4th Quarter 2019

By Therese Schneider

President’s message

As we hit the two-year mark since the creation of the new Wisconsin Policy Forum, I think I speak for our entire Board of Directors and staff in saying the merger has been a resounding success. We are producing more content than ever before, with 53 research publications in 2019… continue reading

Mayor highlights city budget at first-ever Madison Policy in a Pub

We hosted our first-ever Policy in a Pub in Madison on Monday, October 28 where we highlighted our review of the City of Madison’s 2020 budget. The event featured Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway who discussed her proposed budget and provided an update on budget deliberations by city leaders. Read The Capital Times coverage here.

Local leaders discuss the future of Century City at Forum Viewpoint Luncheon

Left: Panelists Joaquín Altoro, CEO, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority; Tom Barrett, Mayor, City of Milwaukee; Rebecca Mitich, Partner, Husch Blackwell & Past Chair, Northwest Side CDC; Cheryl Blue, Executive Director, 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation; Moderator Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal. Right: WPF Senior Researcher Joe Peterangelo presents to attendees.

More than 150 people attended our Viewpoint Luncheon: What is the Future of Century City? on Wednesday, December 4. The event explored whether Milwaukee’s Century City business park is poised to turn the corner and potential challenges that may hold it back. Senior Researcher Joe Peterangelo provided insights on the ingredients for successful redevelopment of urban industrial areas. Then, we heard from a panel of local leaders who are or have been actively engaged in the effort to make Century City a success. Thanks to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino for sponsoring and hosting the event. Check out event photos here.

Forum member benefit includes our staff presenting research to your organization

In addition to producing research, Forum staffers regularly present our research findings at brown bag lunches and other events at the offices of current or prospective members.

In the last three months our staffers discussed a variety of critical research topics with corporate, local government, and school leaders across the state. The entities to which we presented included CUNA Mutual and Boardman Clark (both on the city of Madison budget); von Briesen and the Milwaukee Urban League (Milwaukee city and county budgets); fall conferences of the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officers and Wisconsin Association of School Boards (statewide education issues); the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition (our Innovation DataTool); and the Racine County Board of Supervisors, Racine Common Council, and Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, and Sturtevant village boards (fire/EMS and parks/recreation service sharing opportunities).

Hearing directly from – and being able to engage with – our knowledgeable researchers is one of many benefits of Forum membership. Thanks to all who hosted us in 2019 — and if your organization is interested in having us present our research, please let us know!

The Milwaukee Urban League (left) and the von Briesen Milwaukee office (right) invited WPF to present and discuss our reports on the 2020 Milwaukee city and county budgets.

Forum media coverage reaches new heights

The last three months of 2019 brought new levels of media exposure for the Forum’s research.

In the fourth quarter alone, more than 80 media reports cited our research on topics including public sector retiree benefits, medical marijuana, local government budgets in Milwaukee and Madison, state budget reserves, Wisconsin’s national tax ranking, the state’s shifting job market, and police staffing levels in our biggest cities.

These reports reached markets in every corner of Wisconsin, and in a few publications outside the state, including the Chicago Tribune and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

This reporting enabled growing numbers of Wisconsinites to learn about our research and growing numbers of policymakers to access and digest it. Dissemination of our work is a key organizational objective and is essential to our mission of advancing informed and data-driven policymaking across Wisconsin.

Forum senior researcher Joe Peterangelo is interviewed by PBS Wisconsin journalist Marisa Wojcik, about his December report on how Wisconsin’s job market has changed in the last decade.  

What’s on our agenda for 2020?

Teacher Diversity: The share of students of color in Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools has shot up from 23.6% in 2009 to 30.7% in 2019, while the share of teachers of color statewide has remained less than 5%. With a growing body of research suggesting that a diverse teaching workforce can benefit students in general and underserved students of color in particular, we will produce a series of reports that look at the state’s challenges in this area as well as potential strategies to better attract and retain teachers of color in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Pension Plans: While city and county pension systems in Milwaukee face mounting financial difficulties, the Wisconsin Retirement System stands as an example of one of the few fully funded pension systems in the country. This report will identify WRS best practices and consider whether they could offer benefits for Milwaukee pension plans.

City of Milwaukee Housing Strategies: Building on our 2018 study of demand for affordable housing in Milwaukee, this report seeks to improve public understanding of the city’s role in expanding and maintaining access to housing. The research covers city programs and their finances and outcomes and also compares Milwaukee affordable housing strategies to those employed by peer cities.

Caledonia and Mount Pleasant Finances: Following up on our 2018 study of the city of Racine’s finances, we will examine the fiscal condition of these suburban communities. Quantifying and explaining fiscal challenges and opportunities will be key for Greater Racine governments given the growth and development expected from the planned Foxconn factory and their ongoing efforts to explore shared services.

New faces at the Forum

We’re excited to introduce our newest team member. Welcome to the Forum!

Chalisa Sims is our 2019-20 Todd A. Berry Fellow and is currently pursuing a law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She will be working on school finance research and contributing to other projects.

Stay tuned for a survey on our 2019 research

Every year, we ask our members to give us their feedback on our research and communications. Your input helps us understand what we’re doing well and where we can make improvements. Check your inbox next week for the survey!

Registration open for our 2020 Annual Meeting

Our program will feature a debate between the candidates for Milwaukee County Executive. We’ll also roll out our new Strategic Plan, preview 2020 research projects, and formally swear in our officers and directors. Register online here