Wisconsin Policy Forum President Discusses Top 5 Findings Of 2020

Jan 19, 2021

Every year the Wisconsin Policy Forum releases a top five list of their most important findings from the year.

Rob Henken is the president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum and he discusses each finding.

1. Shift to online shopping helps taxpayers but not state budget.

“While those same sale taxes are being collected [online], there’s a provision in state law that essentially says certain online purchases made from out-of-state retailers, the sales tax collections from those purchases need to be used to reduce income taxes for Wisconsin residents,” he says. “While other states were able to make up some of their overall loss of sales tax revenue by simply collecting those taxes on online purchases, state of Wisconsin has not been able to do so.”

2. Wisconsin’s police spending has increased as a share of municipal spending. 

“On a per capita basis, Wisconsin municipalities are now spending about $219 per capita as of 2018, and that’s about a $74 increase from the amount spent in 1986 and it’s about a 30% increase when accounting for inflation,” he says. “We can’t say this increase as a share of total spending has led to more police officers being on the street, in fact, indications are in the large cities that’s not the case.”

3. Wisconsin’s gap between teachers and students of color is growing.

LISTEN: Students Of Color Benefit From Teachers Who Look Like Them, But 95% Of Wisconsin Teachers Are White

“The good news is that we saw an increase in teachers of color over the 2009 to 2019 timeframe. The bad news is that the increase in students of color far eclipsed that increase, so the gap between teachers and students actually grew,” he says. “30.7% of the public school district population is students of color and only about 5.6% of the teacher population is comprised of teachers of color.”

4. Wisconsin allocates fewer state dollars to arts and culture than any other state.

LISTEN: Wisconsin's In Last Place For Arts & Culture Funding Among US States

“What was surprising for us, when we dug deep was the fact that when you look at state dollars provided to support the arts and culture sector, that Wisconsin is actually dead last,” he says.

5. Wisconsin’s support for public higher education has plummeted when compared to the rest of the nation.

READ: Report: UW System Schools Are Falling Behind Their Peers

“Since the year 2000, Wisconsin’s per student revenues from taxes and tuition at its public universities and technical colleges has fallen from 10% above the U.S. average to about 9.2% below that average,” he says.