Half of State Spending Supports Local Services
More than half the money the state spent last year supports services at the local level, but the percentage has dropped significantly over the last decade.
In fiscal year 2012, 54 cents out of every dollar of General Purpose Revenue (GPR) spent by the Wisconsin state government went to school districts, county governments, and municipal governments to educate schoolchildren, carry out human service programs, and implement other programs at the local level. That amount is down from 60 cents out of every dollar of GPR expenditures in 2002, according to figures from the state Department of Administration. The chart below shows that the remaining GPR spending is divided between aids to individuals (such as Medical Assistance), and state operations, including the UW System.
Another way to look at state spending is by program. State spending for K-12 education (both public schools and private schools in Milwaukee and Racine through the school choice programs) continues to be the single biggest program in state GPR dollars, as shown in the chart below. In 2012, 37 cents out of every dollar the state spent went for K-12 education – which is one reason why the share of state dollars going to local assistance is so high. The other biggest programs in terms of state spending are Medical Assistance (14 cents out of every dollar), Corrections (eight cents) and the UW System (seven cents out of every dollar). State spending on the UW System decreased by about 16 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year.
Total GPR spending decreased by 1.4% between 2011 and 2012, or by about four percent when dollar amounts are adjusted for inflation.