Wisconsin Governments Near Average in Revenue and Spending

Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 11:27 AM by

December 16, 2015: This blog post is revised to compensate for an error in figures from the U.S. Census Bureau that overstated the amount of tax Wisconsin residents pay.

Wisconsin is near average in many measures of government revenue and spending, according to new figures for 2013 that were released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week. That’s nothing new, as Wisconsin has been near the middle of the pack for about a decade now.

A new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project found:

  • Wisconsin state and local governments ranked 22nd among the states in the amount of taxes, fees, and other charges that they collect from state residents on a per-person basis, and 21st when that amount is measured as a share of personal income.
  • Wisconsin ranks 25th in total government spending per person and also 25th when the amount is measured as a share of income.

There are many different ways to measure public revenue and spending, and Wisconsin ranked near the middle in nearly all of them, with two exceptions:

  • Wisconsin ranked 17th in state and local taxes as a share of income. Wisconsin is higher on this measure than the other spending and revenue measures partly because Wisconsin governments rely less on fees and more on taxes than most other states. Still, Wisconsin’s rank has dropped since the 1990s, when Wisconsin rank rose as high as 4th.
  • Wisconsin ranked near the bottom – 37th – in the amount of federal aid Wisconsin governments receive per person. Wisconsin has long been among the bottom-dwellers in the amount of money state and local governments receive from the federal government.

For the complete picture on our Wisconsin compares to other states in different measures of taxes, revenue, and spending, read our new analysis: Middle of the Pack: Wisconsin Government Revenue is Not out of Line.

Tamarine Cornelius

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