Wisconsin Policy Forum

Wisconsin Policy Forum The Public Policy Forum and Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have merged! We are now the Wisconsin Policy Forum, a statewide policy research organization.

Effective January 1, 2018, we are the Wisconsin Policy Forum, a statewide policy research organization with offices in Milwaukee and Madison. We will maintain our shared mission of providing informed, nonpartisan analysis of critical policy issues affecting local governments, school districts, and the State of Wisconsin. However, we now have increased staff capacity, broader research capabilities, and an enhanced platform to even better engage and inform policymakers and citizens.

Mission: Collect, synthesize, and skillfully communicate information about the finances, performance, and relationship of state and local governmental bodies in the State of Wisconsin for the purpose of enhancing government efficiency and educating citizens and taxpayers.

Operating as usual

In this preview of the 2021 legislative session, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cites our research on the potential chal...
01/05/2021
Wisconsin's new legislative session may be like its last one: filled with gridlock and inaction

In this preview of the 2021 legislative session, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cites our research on the potential challenge facing lawmakers and Governor Tony Evers in crafting the next state budget -- which we found could be the most challenging in a decade.

Wisconsin’s last legislative session was marked by budget fights, litigation and inaction. The new one that starts Monday may serve up the same.

In this look ahead to education issues in 2021, The Post-Crescent (Appleton-Fox Cities, cites our research on how Wiscon...
01/04/2021
Five things to watch for in Wisconsin education in 2021: Widening achievement gaps, school funding issues and more

In this look ahead to education issues in 2021, The Post-Crescent (Appleton-Fox Cities, cites our research on how Wisconsin's digital divide affects K-12 students amid remote learning, and on recent voter approval trends for school referenda.

While it's too early to see all the impacts COVID-19 will have on education in 2021, here are five things we'll be keeping our eyes on.

Wisconsinites are using libraries as frequently as they did 20 years ago, albeit in different ways.But for Milwaukee Pub...
12/23/2020
People still love the library but the Milwaukee Public Library's ties to the city budget put it at financial risk

Wisconsinites are using libraries as frequently as they did 20 years ago, albeit in different ways.

But for Milwaukee Public Library, its ties to the city of Milwaukee budget put it at financial risk.

Our president Rob Henken writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Ideas Lab about potential solutions.

The city’s 2021 budget will keep existing library service, but projected jumps in pension obligations and frozen state aid may lead to funding cuts

As we count down our Top 5 research findings of 2020, today we're at #4. This was our finding that as the COVID-19 pande...
12/22/2020
Arts and Culture in a Pandemic

As we count down our Top 5 research findings of 2020, today we're at #4. This was our finding that as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted work and daily life in Wisconsin, arts and cultural organizations and individual artists were among the hardest hit.

We found 33.9% of those employed in the arts, entertainment & recreation sector in Wisconsin filed initial claims for unemployment between March 15 and July 5 -- third-most among all sectors.

Our research found Wisconsin provides the lowest level of annual state support in the nation for arts & culture: ~$770,000, or 13 cents/ person. After this report release, the state announced 3 rounds of relief funding for Wisconsin’s arts & culture groups totaling $45 million.

COVID-19 has created huge challenges for artists and arts and cultural organizations in Wisconsin, which play an important role in the state’s economy and quality of life. These challenges come on the heels of a pre-pandemic employment decline in the sector and declining state support, with Wiscon...

As 2020 winds to a close, we're rekindling a Forum tradition: our Top 5 research findings of the year. It should be no s...
12/21/2020
Falling Behind?

As 2020 winds to a close, we're rekindling a Forum tradition: our Top 5 research findings of the year.

It should be no surprise that our list is dominated by research on the momentous events this year has brought.

First up is #5 on our list: our finding that Wisconsin’s funding support for public higher education has plummeted compared to national peers.

After years of slow erosion of funding and enrollment, higher education in Wisconsin faces a flash flood. Financial challenges had been accumulating for the state’s public colleges and universities, brought on by stagnant state funding, a tuition freeze, and declining enrollment. Now COVID-19 thre...

We're excited to unveil the virtual agenda for the Forum's 2021 annual meeting on Jan. 25!We will discuss our new report...
12/18/2020
2021 Annual Meeting

We're excited to unveil the virtual agenda for the Forum's 2021 annual meeting on Jan. 25!

We will discuss our new report on the state of public higher education in Wisconsin and how it compares to national peers.

Our panel will feature University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone and former Gov. and interim University of Wisconsin System President Tommy G. Thompson.

Registration is now open, and Forum members as well as non-members are welcome to join us!

While we wish we could gather in person, we’re planning an exciting agenda for the 2021 annual meeting of the Wisconsin Policy Forum!

"A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum lays out that more collaboration of fire and EMS services in the La Crosse...
12/17/2020
Consolidated emergency services most efficient for La Crosse area, report shows

"A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum lays out that more collaboration of fire and EMS services in the La Crosse area could cut costs while improving service quality."

Check out the coverage of our latest research from the La Crosse Tribune! Olivia Herken has the report.

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum lays out that more collaboration of fire and EMS services in the La Crosse area could cut costs while improving service quality.

"A new report on the financial health of Wisconsin's state universities and technical colleges found lagging state inves...
12/16/2020
Report: Wisconsin's public colleges are falling behind as state funds lag and enrollment drops

"A new report on the financial health of Wisconsin's state universities and technical colleges found lagging state investment, enrollment challenges and — for University of Wisconsin schools — an ongoing tuition freeze as some of several factors threatening their competitiveness."

Check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage of our latest research on how the University of Wisconsin System and its flagship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, compare with regional and national peers in key fiscal metrics.

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum outlines the challenges faced by the state's public universities and colleges.

12/15/2020
Falling Behind: The state of Wisconsin's public universities and colleges

Our latest research finds University of Wisconsin System and its flagship University of Wisconsin-Madison falling behind their peers in key financial metrics, as a tuition freeze, declining enrollment, stagnant state funding, and lackluster growth in research spending threaten their long-term competitiveness.

The last decade, in particular, has seen Wisconsin’s public higher education system largely fail to keep pace with regional and national counterparts in these areas.

Now, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to compound the damage. Click here to read the report: https://wispolicyforum.org/research/falling-behind-the-state-of-wisconsins-public-universities-and-colleges/

Wisconsin State Journal covers our latest, which found school districts increasing property taxes statewide by 3.3% for ...
12/14/2020
Study: School property taxes grow less than previous year despite pandemic, recession

Wisconsin State Journal covers our latest, which found school districts increasing property taxes statewide by 3.3% for the coming year, relative to a 4.5% increase for 2019. A key factor was the success of voter referenda in many districts.

Residents in school districts across the state will see an increase in their property taxes in the coming year but the increase will be considerably lower than the previous year

See this PBS Wisconsin discussion with our research director Jason Stein about our new research, which found Wisconsin's...
12/11/2020
WisContext

See this PBS Wisconsin discussion with our research director Jason Stein about our new research, which found Wisconsin's next state budget could be its most difficult in a decade.

📺 🖥️ 💻 📱 Watch an interview Wisconsin Policy Forum research director Jason Stein about Wisconsin's projected financial shortfall in its 2021-23 budget cycle, the pandemic's role in the situation and the challenges in addressing the gap.

(Via PBS Wisconsin)

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest research, which found property taxes levied by Wisconsin schools will go up 3.3...
12/10/2020
Wisconsin School Property Taxes Rise After Another Successful Year For Referendums

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest research, which found property taxes levied by Wisconsin schools will go up 3.3 percent in 2020 -- the second-largest increase in the past decade.

This follows another round of successful school funding referenda statewide in 2020. It also comes in the wake of a years-long stretch of stagnant limits on revenue that school districts could collect.

A new report shows that property taxes levied by schools in Wisconsin will go up 3.3%, a smaller increase than in 2019 but still larger than any other year over the past decade.

"The nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum report predicts legislators will have to deal with the state's largest budget sh...
12/09/2020
Report: Wisconsin Spending Could Exceed Revenue By $373 Million

"The nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum report predicts legislators will have to deal with the state's largest budget shortfall since 2011 when they craft the 2021-2023 biennial budget."

WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR covers our latest on the daunting task facing state leaders next year.

Updated Dec. 8 at 11:04 a.m. CST State spending in Wisconsin is projected to exceed revenue by about $373 million in the coming two years, without taking

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest on the next state budget. Due in part to the COVID-19 crisis, it could be the m...
12/08/2020
State Spending Projected To Exceed Revenue By At Least $373M

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest on the next state budget. Due in part to the COVID-19 crisis, it could be the most difficult in a decade.

Our analysis finds a potential gap of $373 million in the state's 2021-23 budget even if policymakers reject all new spending requests -- including to simply maintain current service levels in programs such as those funded by Medicaid.

The good news: the state can lean on stronger reserves than it had in recent past years.

Policy researchers say continued divisions among state leadership will make finding ways to address the deficit and ongoing pandemic even more challenging.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covers our latest research, which examines the big-picture state fiscal challenges Govern...
12/07/2020
Wisconsin could face a budget gap of as much as $2 billion over two years

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covers our latest research, which examines the big-picture state fiscal challenges Governor Tony Evers and lawmakers will face in 2021.

It could be the state's most difficult budget in a decade, our research concludes.

State spending is projected to outstrip revenue by at least $373 million unless lawmakers cut expenses, raise taxes or get a boost in federal aid.

Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin covers our recent look at traffic safety in Wisconsin in the early months of the pandemic, whe...
12/04/2020
Wisconsin Has Seen More Car Crash Deaths During The Pandemic

Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin covers our recent look at traffic safety in Wisconsin in the early months of the pandemic, when motorists began driving less.

Yet auto crash fatalities increased 20% from the same period a year earlier, and alcohol- and speeding-involved fatalities were up 50%.

Many crashes are linked to speeding, alcohol, or drug use.

Our research director Jason Stein moderated today's WisPolitics.com panel on the challenges for local government budgets...
12/03/2020
The state of local budgets

Our research director Jason Stein moderated today's WisPolitics.com panel on the challenges for local government budgets in Wisconsin.

The discussion included Waukesha Co. Board Chair Paul Decker, Milwaukee Co. Exec David Crowley, Wausau Mayor City of Wausau Government Mayor Katie Rosenberg and City of Green Bay Government Mayor Eric Genrich. Check it out!

WFRV Local 5 in Green Bay covers our latest research, which found auto fatalities up in Wisconsin in the early months of...
12/02/2020
Report: Auto fatalities up in Wisconsin despite less driving

WFRV Local 5 in Green Bay covers our latest research, which found auto fatalities up in Wisconsin in the early months of the pandemic, even as motorists drove less.

Of particular concern: 50% increases in alcohol- or speeding-involved fatalities.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report finds that auto fatalities are up in Wisconsin despite there being fewer people on the road due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Wisconsin Policy Forum report rele…

The Forum is Wisconsin's leading source for nonpartisan, independent public policy research. We strive to provide impart...
12/01/2020
Wisconsin Policy Forum | Join

The Forum is Wisconsin's leading source for nonpartisan, independent public policy research.

We strive to provide impartial research for informed debate -- so all Wisconsinites can better understand and engage with the challenges and opportunities facing our state.

This research can't happen without the support of generous contributors that value it.

On this #GivingTuesday, please consider joining the hundreds of corporations, nonprofits, local governments, school districts and individuals that make our work possible.

Join hundreds of corporations, nonprofits, local governments, and school districts, and individuals who ensure the Forum's continued operation as a valuable and reliable source of independent, nonpartisan government research and education in Wisconsin. Membership benefits include:

The Associated Press covers our latest research, which found some alarming trends on Wisconsin roads during the initial ...
12/01/2020
Report: Auto fatalities up in Wisconsin despite less driving

The Associated Press covers our latest research, which found some alarming trends on Wisconsin roads during the initial months of the pandemic:

"Alcohol-involved crash fatalities were up 50%, drug-involved crash fatalities grew by 46% and speeding-involved crash fatalities were up by 52%, the report said."

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Auto fatalities are up in Wisconsin despite there being fewer people on the road due to the coronavirus pandemic, a report released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Policy Forum...

The Wisconsin State Journal cites our recent research on how municipal fee revenues from cable TV are declining as more ...
11/30/2020
Report: Wisconsinites follow national trend in cutting cable subscriptions

The Wisconsin State Journal cites our recent research on how municipal fee revenues from cable TV are declining as more viewers are cord cutting and tuning in to streaming video services.

The rise in online video streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus, are a likely factor in the reduced rate of cable subscribers.

The Courier of Waterloo/Marshall covers our research from Jefferson County, which found greater collaboration by area EM...
11/24/2020
Study presents options for Jefferson County EMS teamwork

The Courier of Waterloo/Marshall covers our research from Jefferson County, which found greater collaboration by area EMS providers could help address emergency response challenges more effectively -- and potentially at lower cost.

Last of a two-part series.

WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR covers our reserach finding that Wisconsin school referendums saw strong approval rates t...
11/23/2020
Wisconsin School Property Tax Referendums Are ‘Resilient’ Amid Economic Upheaval, Political Division

WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR covers our reserach finding that Wisconsin school referendums saw strong approval rates this year, despite the economic devastation of the pandemic.

Their passage also largely transcend political divides, gaining approval in both Democrat and Republican-leaning communities.

It’s become common in Wisconsin for school districts to go directly to voters to ask for increased property tax funding. These school referendums have seen

Our latest research finds cable television fee revenues trending downward as a revenue source for WI municipalities, ami...
11/23/2020
Tuning In To Video Fees

Our latest research finds cable television fee revenues trending downward as a revenue source for WI municipalities, amid the ongoing trend of cord cutting and the shift to streaming video services.

While consumers may be bingeing video more than ever in a time of social distancing, new data show cable television revenues actually falling in Wisconsin in the run-up to COVID-19. Last year, the state Legislature cut local fees paid by cable and telephone video providers in Wisconsin and approved....

WORT FM News covers our latest research, examining one way in which local issues can transcend national political divide...
11/19/2020
Wisconsin voters approve near-record number of school funding referenda - WORT 89.9 FM

WORT FM News covers our latest research, examining one way in which local issues can transcend national political divides.

It found Wisconsin voters -- in red and blue communities alike -- gave near-record approval in 2020 to school district property tax referenda.

Wisconsin voters approved 43 out of 51 school funding referendums in this fall’s election. Combined with those approved in the spring election, voters have passed a total of 95 school funding measures this year. According to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the near-record approval ra...

Wisconsin State Journal covers our latest on school referenda results in 2020. Wisconsin voters approved these referenda...
11/17/2020
Study: Referendums succeed in Wisconsin school districts despite politics and high unemployment

Wisconsin State Journal covers our latest on school referenda results in 2020.

Wisconsin voters approved these referenda at near-record rates this year despite an economic downturn -- transcending partisan divides that animated our presidential election.

Madison proved to be one of many Wisconsin school districts to successfully pass referendums at the beginning of November, as funding for public education appeared to be one of few

Presidential elections naturally put the focus on how divided we are. But the recent elections revealed a remarkable deg...
11/17/2020
Wisconsin School Referenda Rise above Economy, Politics

Presidential elections naturally put the focus on how divided we are. But the recent elections revealed a remarkable degree of bipartisan agreement at the local level in Wisconsin.

Our latest report finds that despite the highest unemployment rate on record earlier this year and the absence of tens of thousands of students from school buildings since March, Wisconsin voters approved school referenda this month at near-record rates.

These results speak particularly loudly given that they happened in a high-turnout election and in both red and blue communities.

Despite the highest unemployment rate on record earlier this year and the absence of tens of thousands of students from school buildings since March, unofficial results show Wisconsin voters approved school referenda this month at near record rates. The results speak particularly loudly given that t...

Time is running out to register for our virtual Salute to Local Government on Wed., Nov. 18!This event will recognize ex...
11/16/2020
2020 Salute to Local Government

Time is running out to register for our virtual Salute to Local Government on Wed., Nov. 18!

This event will recognize excellence in Wisconsin local government and school districts during a year of unprecedented challenges. This year -- in addition to our standard award categories -- we're featuring two new categories to honor outstanding pandemic response.

Our keynote speaker will be Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, who will highlight his efforts to achieve racial equity in Wisconsin's largest county.

Also new this year is an exclusive pre-event panel discussion with our individual award winners, focusing on how the pandemic is affecting local governments and school districts and what that tells us about the future.

Join us for a pre-event panel discussion with this year's individual awardees that will focus on how the pandemic is impacting local governments and school districts and what that tells us about the future of our governmental structures and staffing. Sign up for this event when you register for the....

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Milwaukee, WI
53203

General information

Join the region's thought leaders by becoming a member of the Forum. Individual, corporate, and non-profit memberships available. http://www.publicpolicyforum.org/memberinfo.php

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Monday 08:30 - 17:00
Tuesday 08:30 - 17:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 17:00
Thursday 08:30 - 17:00
Friday 08:30 - 17:00

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(414) 276-8240

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Comments

Hello – I thought your membership may be interested in seeing Mike McCabe for Governor’s proposal to repeal over 130 laws enacted since 2011 that have taken away local democracy. Mike wants to (once again) empower local communities (not those at the State Capitol) to be free to decide what’s best for them.