by Donald J. Devine
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
October 28, 2004
There is a significant mismatch between the level of state and local spending in Wisconsin and the ability of the state’s citizens to pay for government spending. In 2002, total state and local government spending in Wisconsin was 7.7 percent above the national average, which meant that government spending in Wisconsin was $2.44 billion more than if we had spent at the national average level. Wisconsin’s income level was 2.8 percent below the national average. Adopting comprehensive and reasonable limits on government spending would help address this mismatch while maintaining Wisconsin’s high quality of life. The Wisconsin Legislature and the public have spent considerable time in 2004 debating whether the state should adopt comprehensive spending limits for state and local government. The debate was sparked by concerns that Wisconsin’s spending and tax levels are too high, overburdening the state’s citizens and hurting economic growth, and that the state budget process needs to be improved to avoid boom and bust budget cycles.