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.

Operating as usual

“We have a system that is broken, and it’s really imploding right now."Jefferson Fire Chief Ronald Wegner spoke to News ...
11/01/2021
Report: Fire, EMS departments nearing crisis in Wisconsin as 911 calls rise, staffing declines

“We have a system that is broken, and it’s really imploding right now."

Jefferson Fire Chief Ronald Wegner spoke to News 3 Now / Channel 3000 about our recent research that found mounting challenges for local fire/EMS departments across Wisconsin.

Across Wisconsin, a new report finds small fire and EMS departments are reaching a crisis point amid rising EMS calls and a struggle to retain staff.

"For decades, Wisconsin’s rural communities have relied on volunteer-run emergency services, but rising call volumes and...
10/29/2021
'It's at a dire pace right now': New study shows unsustainable model for Wisconsin fire and EMS workers

"For decades, Wisconsin’s rural communities have relied on volunteer-run emergency services, but rising call volumes and shrinking volunteer pools are challenging the sustainability of this model."

@WPR covers our latest on this challenge confronting more and more Wisconsin communities.

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that fire and EMS providers across the state are struggling to meet service needs because of increased call volumes from an aging population and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.

Check out this report via A.J. Bayatpour at WKOW 27 on our latest, about the growing challenges facing local fire and EM...
10/28/2021
'It's beyond a rainy day': Report outlines staffing crisis facing ambulance services

Check out this report via A.J. Bayatpour at WKOW 27 on our latest, about the growing challenges facing local fire and EMS agencies throughout Wisconsin.

They face increasing difficulty recruiting and retaining volunteer or part-time staff, while being squeezed by an increasing volume of emergency calls from an aging population.

As the Belleville EMS chief told Bayatpour: "It's beyond a rainy day [for us] ... it's almost a flood."

BELLEVILLE (WKOW) -- It's become a familiar anxiety for the EMS chief here. Reaching the midway point of the week, Jamie Stephenson has only filled about half the EMT shifts

Our latest report highlights the growing number of fire/EMS agencies in Wisconsin that are struggling to maintain proper...
10/27/2021
In Need of Resuscitation?

Our latest report highlights the growing number of fire/EMS agencies in Wisconsin that are struggling to maintain proper service levels.

It's due in part to increasing service calls from an aging population, & staff recruitment/retention difficulties.

The situation may demand greater consideration of consolidating local agencies to improve services while holding down costs -- and state action may also be warranted.

The Forum has recently studied dozens of fire and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in Wisconsin and found many are struggling to maintain their existing staffing models as EMS call volumes rise and rosters of part-time staff decline. The situation may demand greater consideration of consoli...

"The city’s financial picture seems rosier than expected ....  a large chunk of that good news, though is based on an en...
10/26/2021
City of Madison 2022 Budget Brief - WORT 89.9 FM

"The city’s financial picture seems rosier than expected .... a large chunk of that good news, though is based on an enormous one-time infusion of federal pandemic relief funds."

See this WORT FM News coverage of our latest on the proposed City of Madison, Wisconsin Government budget.

In October of 2020, at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Madison, like governments everywhere, braced for the worst. With the globe in lockdown, travel, tourism and parking revenues tanked,and new construction tailed off, depriving the city of the only sources of revenue over which i...

Check out this The Capital Times coverage of our latest, on the proposed City of Madison, Wisconsin Government budget.We...
10/25/2021
Wisconsin Policy Forum report: Federal aid helps Madison budget in short term

Check out this The Capital Times coverage of our latest, on the proposed City of Madison, Wisconsin Government budget.

We found unprecedented levels of federal pandemic relief aid have positioned the city to consider a 2022 budget that would avoid large tax increases and service cuts while launching a handful of new initiatives.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum found in its latest analysis that the city’s long-term budget continues to face obstacles despite “an “unparalleled” amount of federal aid.

BizTimes Media overs our recent research on the daunting fiscal outlook for the Milwaukee County Parks System -- and how...
10/20/2021
Report: Minneapolis, Cleveland and other peers offer solutions for cash-strapped Milwaukee County Parks

BizTimes Media overs our recent research on the daunting fiscal outlook for the Milwaukee County Parks System -- and how "peer parks systems from across the country offer some potential paths forward."

Peer parks systems from across the country offer some potential paths forward for the cash-strapped Milwaukee County Parks system, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Growing constraints on property tax resources continue to challenge the operations of Milwaukee County Parks. Our latest...
10/19/2021
Sinking Treasure

Growing constraints on property tax resources continue to challenge the operations of Milwaukee County Parks. Our latest research finds changes to the parks’ revenue mix create new policy questions, but models in peer communities may offer key insights.

The financial challenges facing the Milwaukee County Parks have been well-documented by county officials and auditors and several blue ribbon commissions over the past two decades. The Wisconsin Policy Forum itself has spent considerable time researching the scope of those challenges and their cause...

This Wisconsin Public Radio report about the challenges facing Wisconsin municipalities recruiting police officers cites...
10/18/2021
Report: Wisconsin Police Budgets Were Cut Prior To Protests

This Wisconsin Public Radio report about the challenges facing Wisconsin municipalities recruiting police officers cites our research from earlier this year.

We found communities throughout Wisconsin have reduced police spending/staffing for reasons that may have had more to do with their finances than calls for defunding.

A new report shows police departments across Wisconsin saw their budgets cut and number of sworn officers reduced before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the national "defund police" debate.

Our Milwaukee County Budget Brief finds last year’s concerns that the pandemic would ravage county finances have been su...
10/15/2021
Budget Brief

Our Milwaukee County Budget Brief finds last year’s concerns that the pandemic would ravage county finances have been supplanted this year by a brightened outlook that, at least for the next 2-3 years, is the strongest the county has seen in decades.

This allows the 2022 budget proposal to largely avoid service cuts, fee hikes, or workforce reductions, while also recommending new investments and preserving nearly all of the county’s $183.7 million allocation of federal ARPA funds for future use.

Still, this momentary boost to the county’s budget picture does not alter its far more challenging long-term outlook.

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, after noting the startling nature of a recommended county budget that avoided program and staffing cuts in the midst of a global pandemic, we also warned that “any celebration about the relatively tranquil nature of the 2021 budget should be ...

"A Shot, a Beer and the Ever-Evolving Debate Over Taxing Sin"Check out this coverage via Governing citing our recent res...
10/14/2021
A Shot, a Beer and the Ever-Evolving Debate Over Taxing Sin

"A Shot, a Beer and the Ever-Evolving Debate Over Taxing Sin"

Check out this coverage via Governing citing our recent research, which found alcohol tax revenues in Wisconsin increased sharply during the pandemic.

We’ve tried taxing drinkers, smokers and soda-guzzlers. Sometimes it helps, improving the public’s health, even if it doesn’t produce a lot of revenue. But it still raises equity and moral issues.

10/13/2021

The 2022 edition of our annual City of Milwaukee budget brief finds an unprecedented infusion of federal pandemic aid should provide substantial relief for the city's budget imbalance for the next three years. As shown in this visual, Mayor Tom Barrett proposes to spend #ARPA dollars over the next 3 budgets to address immediate needs and invest on a one-time basis in some longer-term priorities.

But while the arrival of $394.2 million in federal #ARPA dollars is a very welcome development for city finances, it will only delay a reckoning with challenges including a looming pension crisis and stagnant state and local revenues.

It may also widen the structural fiscal imbalance the city faces in future budgets, with public safety positions among those at risk.

Click the link to read the report: https://wispolicyforum.org/research/budget-brief-2022-proposed-city-of-milwaukee-budget/

In this look at MMAC's new startup and entrepreneurship initative, Milwaukee Business Journal notes we will release an u...
10/12/2021
MMAC launching efforts to boost city's startup and venture capital ecosystem - Milwaukee Business Journal

In this look at MMAC's new startup and entrepreneurship initative,
Milwaukee Business Journal notes we will release an update -- which we expect to be released later this year -- to our Innovation DataTool. It will include new data on startups and STEM graduates in metro Milwaukee.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) said Monday it's launching several efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, startups and venture funding, including a new mentorship program and a data dashboard.

WQOW News 18 in Eau Claire covers our recent report, which found the share of Wisconsin high school seniors completing t...
10/08/2021
Fewer WI High School Seniors File FAFSA

WQOW News 18 in Eau Claire covers our recent report, which found the share of Wisconsin high school seniors completing the FAFSA plummeted during the pandemic.

This hit underserved groups hardest, and creates a concerning dynamic for college enrollment.

On Oct. 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid opened, and if this year is anything like last year high schoolers around the state might not apply.

Cost is a chief obstacle for Milwaukee small businesses to using technology -- as are a lack of access to training, capi...
10/07/2021
Up to Speed

Cost is a chief obstacle for Milwaukee small businesses to using technology -- as are a lack of access to training, capital & cultural recognition. These findings come from Milwaukee small business owners surveyed & interviewed for our latest report.

Commissioned by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, this report examines the use of technology by small businesses in the city of Milwaukee. A specific emphasis is placed on small businesses owned by people of color, who made up a majority of small businesses surveyed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. The ways we work, shop, and spend our leisure time were changed almost overnight by the onset of the pandemic and subsequent public health restrictions and economic downturn. The pandemic also has necessitated a shift in how many b...

Forum president Rob Henken on how federal pandemic aid affects our annual reviews of Milwaukee city and county budgets:I...
10/01/2021
3rd Quarter 2021 Presidents Message

Forum president Rob Henken on how federal pandemic aid affects our annual reviews of Milwaukee city and county budgets:

It "will shift the Forum’s focus to analyzing the extent to which city and county leaders propose to spend these monies prudently and effectively."

This fall will mark the 10th consecutive year that the Forum has produced annual reviews of both the Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee proposed budgets. In each of those years, there has been one certainty: given the fierce financial challenges facing both governments, a primary focus would be....

Read about what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls a "troubling sign" in our latest research: The share of Wisconsin h...
09/30/2021
During pandemic, number of high school seniors taking key step toward enrolling in college plummets

Read about what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls a "troubling sign" in our latest research:

The share of Wisconsin high school seniors who complated applications for federal financial aid plummeted during the pandemic.

The declines hit underserved groups the hardest, eroding previous years’ progress toward closing FAFSA completion gaps.

This trend carries ominous implications since the FAFSA is a crucial first step for many students toward securing the financial aid necessary to attend college -- and research shows FAFSA completion is associated with a higher likelihood that a student will enroll in a postsecondary institution.

The completion numbers for Milwaukee and Wisconsin fell by greater margins than the nationwide numbers.

"A report published Friday from the Wisconsin Policy Forum indicates job recovery in bars and restaurants has been even ...
09/29/2021
Out of service: What will it take to bring back Madison's restaurant workers?

"A report published Friday from the Wisconsin Policy Forum indicates job recovery in bars and restaurants has been even weaker in Wisconsin than nationally..."

The Capital Times cites our recent research on how our state's restaurant and bar industry is recovering from damage inflicted during the pandemic.

After 18 months of closures and pivots, food service establishments around Dane County are reeling from pandemic burnout. The effects are visible everywhere.

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest report, which found Wisconsin’s restaurant and bar industry is bouncing back fr...
09/28/2021
Wisconsin Bars And Restaurants Are Bouncing Back, But Not To Pre-Pandemic Levels

Wisconsin Public Radio covers our latest report, which found Wisconsin’s restaurant and bar industry is bouncing back from the pandemic -- but is not yet nearing pre-pandemic levels.

It also found -- and restaurant owners tell @WPR -- that worker shortages continue to be a key challenge.

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum shows that the state's bars and restaurants are on the rebound, but employment in the industry still lags 8.8 percent behind 2019 numbers.

The Waukesha Freeman covers our latest on the challenges facing Wisconsin's restaurant and bar industry amid the pandemi...
09/27/2021
Local restaurant troubles continue despite consumer demand

The Waukesha Freeman covers our latest on the challenges facing Wisconsin's restaurant and bar industry amid the pandemic:

“While this sector has shown important signs of recovery, employment is still down by almost 9%. Meanwhile, the sector’s recovery in Wisconsin appears somewhat weaker than nationally and it lags the state’s economy overall in the return of both jobs and sales.”

WAUKESHA — Restaurants may be open, but the climb to their pre-pandemic state remains steep and long, with the major remaining struggle being staffing. “What’s been happening in the outlook,

Our latest Forum Friday virtual discussion today -- on back-to-school challenges for Wisconsin school districts amid the...
09/24/2021
Forum Friday: Back-to-School Challenges and Opportunities

Our latest Forum Friday virtual discussion today -- on back-to-school challenges for Wisconsin school districts amid the pandemic -- was one of our most informative yet!

If you missed it, click the link to watch the archived video.

For the September 2021 installment of our virtual event series, Forum Friday, we focused on the array of issues facing Wisconsin school districts as students return to the classroom after the unprecedented events of the last 18 months.

"One in three Wisconsin police departments cut their number of sworn officers in 2019, according to a recent analysis......
09/23/2021
Wisconsin communities face police funding challenges

"One in three Wisconsin police departments cut their number of sworn officers in 2019, according to a recent analysis..."

Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin covers our research on policing changes that predate recent calls to reform or "defund" police departments.

Report: Cuts were common prior to protests.

WORT FM covers our latest research on the biggest increase in alcohol tax revenues in Wisconsin in 50 years amid the pan...
09/20/2021
Wisconsin’s alcohol tax revenues spiked during pandemic - WORT 89.9 FM

WORT FM covers our latest research on the biggest increase in alcohol tax revenues in Wisconsin in 50 years amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Safe Communities MDC says it saw increased requests for alcohol/substance abuse support services.

A new report finds that alcohol tax revenue surged in the past year — suggesting that consumption of alcohol spiked along with it. The report, released today by the non-partisan Wisconsin Policy Forum, finds that Wisconsin’s alcohol tax revenue jumped by nearly 17% during the 2021 fiscal year. T...

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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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Tuesday 8:30am - 5pm
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Thursday 8:30am - 5pm
Friday 8:30am - 5pm

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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.