Rural, Northern Wisconsin Projected to Lose Large Numbers of Children in Coming Years

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 7:48 AM by

In some areas of northern and central Wisconsin, the number of children is expected to decline by up to a quarter over the next 25 years, presenting a host of challenges to communities that are already struggling to stay economically vibrant. Communities in rural areas with declining numbers of children often have difficulty providing enough resources for their school districts, which often have substantial fixed costs and must shoulder the costs of transporting students across a large geographic area.

Overall, the number of children in Wisconsin is projected to grow modestly over the next several decades, but the growth will be concentrated in a few already-populous areas of the state including southern Wisconsin, the Fox Valley, and the suburban communities around Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The number of children in Wisconsin is expected to grow by 87,000 between 2015 and 2040, a 5.9% increase, according to projections made by the state’s Department of Administration. Read more

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Wisconsin’s Tax Ranking Drops, but Pace of Job Creation Stays Slow

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 9:16 AM by

Wisconsin’s ranking among the states in many measures of government revenue and spending has dropped considerably since about 2000, but that hasn’t translated into an increased pace of job creation, new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show. In fact, Wisconsin continues to trail the national average in job growth.

A new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project shows that over time, Wisconsin’s ranking on government revenue and spending has dropped and is now in the middle of the states:

  • Wisconsin state and local governments ranked 25th among the states in the amount of taxes, fees, and other charges they collect from state residents when measured on a per-person basis. That ranking has dropped considerably since 2000, when Wisconsin ranked 11th highest among the states on this measure. Figures are for fiscal year 2015.
  • Wisconsin also ranks exactly in the middle –25th – when the amount of taxes, fees, and other charges collected from residents are measured as a share of income.
Read more

What the Trump Tax Plan Means for Wisconsin Taxpayers, in Six Charts

Friday, October 6, 2017 at 12:00 PM by

The tax plan being advanced by President Trump and Republican members of Congress would mostly benefit the extremely rich, despite initial claims by proponents that it would be targeted at members of the middle class.

Provisions included in the tax framework include:

  • Reducing the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 20%;
  • Eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, which insures that wealthy individuals pay at least some level of federal income tax;
  • Eliminating the estate tax. Currently, only estates of more than $5.5 million for individuals or $11 million for couples pay any estate tax;
  • Reducing the number of income tax brackets;
  • Doubling the amount of the standard deduction and eliminating the personal exemption; and
  • Ending the deduction for state and local taxes paid.

Using data from an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, we have prepared six charts that show how the Trump-GOP tax framework would affect Wisconsin taxpayers:

1. Read more

Push by Lawmakers to Break Up Racine School District Could Segregate Students by Race, Income

Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 10:25 AM by

A provision that Wisconsin lawmakers included in the state budget would stratify students in the Racine area by income and race and make it more difficult for the Racine school district to improve academic opportunities for students. The budget encourages  wealthier, less racially diverse areas of the Racine school district to break off and form their own separate districts, concentrating poorer students in the remaining portion of the district.

Racine Unified School District is the fifth-largest district in the state, with about 19,000 students spread out over 31 schools. The school district includes the City of Racine as well as several other municipalities including the villages of Caledonia (about 25,000 residents), Mount Pleasant (26,000 residents), and Sturtevant (5,000 residents).

Students in the Racine school district already face obstacles to academic success. Racine has a higher proportion of students from low-income families than other similarly-situated school districts in Wisconsin and the lowest share of adults with a college degree, according to a study from the Public Policy Forum. Read more

Wisconsin’s Lagging Income Growth Boosts Federal Share of Medicaid Costs

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 5:37 PM by

A state’s lagging economic performance can have a silver lining – in the form of increased federal assistance. Thanks to a Medicaid formula that currently provides more generous cost-sharing to states that are below average in per capita income, Wisconsin’s rather anemic personal income growth will save the state millions of dollars during the 2017-19 budget period.

However, that feature of Medicaid funding allocations could be gone in a few years if Congress approves the recent Republican proposals that would block grant or cap each state’s allocation. Read more

New ACA Repeal Plan Expected to Cost Wisconsin $29 Billion by 2036

Friday, September 22, 2017 at 12:50 PM by
The new proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is estimated to reduce federal health care funding for Wisconsin by $29 billion from 2020 through 2036. That’s the conclusion of an analysis released on September 21 by Avalere Health. The Avalere analysis helps illustrate why the new ACA repeal and replace plan, like the ones before it, would result in at least 20 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2021. And under this plan offered by Senators Graham and Cassidy, the rapid drop in insurance coverage could reach 32 million in 2027, according to a report issued today by the Brookings Institute. The new proposal would make insurance far less affordable for many who now use the subsidized ACA marketplace and would force states to make deep cuts in Medicaid services for children, seniors and people with disabilities.

To Observe Constitution Day, Protect Constitution from Threat of Convention

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:05 AM by

Sunday, September 17th was Constitution Day, a holiday that recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become citizens. This year, Constitution Day marked the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

The U.S. Constitution has served the country well for more than two centuries, but some Wisconsin state lawmakers want to open the door to wholesale changes to the Constitution, a move that could threaten basic freedoms and liberties.

When the U.S. Constitution has needed amending in the past, Congress and at least three-fourths of the states voted to approve a specific amendment. Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and similar groups are pushing an alternate, untested approach to amending the Constitution, which requires two-thirds of state legislatures to approve resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention. Once that threshold is reached, Congress must convene a Constitutional Convention. Read more

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Budget Bill Boosts Property Taxes for Thousands of Low-income Households

Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 2:36 PM by
Despite the claims of state lawmakers that the biennial budget bill cuts property taxes, the actions of those policymakers will increase property taxes for thousands of low-income Wisconsin households. The budget bill does that by significantly reducing funding for the Homestead Tax Credit, which was designed to provide targeted property tax relief to low-income homeowners and renters. A new Wisconsin Budget Project summary of tax changes in the budget bill describes some of the major items, which include more than $400 million of tax cuts. But the bill cuts funding and eligibility for the Homestead Credit, and the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) rejected the Governor’s proposal to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.
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New Census Data Show Continued Gains from the ACA

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 6:28 PM by

Insurance Coverage Also Improves in Wisconsin, but More Slowly than in Medicaid Expansion States

The number of Wisconsinites who do not have health insurance fell sharply during the first three years of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to new survey data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 218,000 fewer Wisconsin residents were uninsured last year than in 2013, a decline of 42 percent.

Wisconsin is still among the top ten states in the percentage of people with insurance, but our state’s rank has been slipping. We went from being tied for 7th best in 2015 to a tie for 10th best last year.  In 2016, Kentucky, West Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island all surpassed or tied Wisconsin’s rate of insurance coverage. Read more

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Unemployment is Low, but Wisconsin Workers Face a Host of Other Roadblocks

Friday, September 1, 2017 at 3:54 PM by

Even as the state’s unemployment rate declines, Wisconsin workers face significant barriers to economic stability, according to a new look at the state’s labor market. Long-term stagnation in wages, a black/white economic disparity that is among the largest of any state, increasing levels of income inequality, a shrinking middle class, and limits on the ability to unionize are among the obstacles faced by Wisconsin workers, according to The State of Working Wisconsin 2017 by COWS.

Key findings of the report include:

Wisconsin has fallen behind in job growth compared to other states. In 2016, Wisconsin had 128.4 jobs for every 100 jobs it had in 1990, compared to 132.6 jobs nationally. That gap is a relatively new occurrence, with the pace of job growth in Wisconsin exceeding the national average for the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s. During the recession, Wisconsin lost jobs at about the same rate as the national average. Read more

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