New book urges states to push back

A reassertion of true federalism — the devolution of national control and the re-establishment of state interests and individual liberties — is the only solution to Washington's overreach.

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Criminal justice reform recommendations for Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coalition, led by the Badger Institute, offers policy ideas for combatting recidivism, fostering opportunity, saving taxpayer money and maintaining public safety.

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Drawing sidelined Wisconsin workers back to the labor force

Wisconsin employers are struggling to find qualified workers. At the same time, the state’s labor force participation rate is well below the peak reached during the last two economic expansions. What can employers and policy-makers do to get workers off the sidelines?

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Wisconsin: A Blueprint
for More Workers

In response to a tight state labor market, our latest report offers strategies for increasing labor force participation. Authors Ike Brannon and Andrew Hanson find that increasing the participation rate by just 1 percentage point would increase gross state product by a whopping $667 annually per resident.

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Online sales tax ruling opens door
for Wisconsin tax reform

Wisconsin will likely collect an estimated $120 million in additional annual online sales tax revenue following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent South Dakota v. Wayfair ruling. In a policy brief, the Badger Institute and the Tax Foundation provide ideas for using this revenue to address structural issues with the state's tax code.

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Register for our Annual Dinner

The Badger Institute proudly presents Jason Riley at our Annual Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The columnist, author and commentator will speak on the tragic lack of educational, social and economic advancement among many African-Americans in the United States and why black political success hasn't made a difference.

Register Now

Badger Institute Annual Dinner

Join us Tuesday, Oct. 23, for our Annual Dinner — featuring Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist, Manhattan Institute senior fellow, 2018 Bradley Prize winner, Fox News commentator and author of “False Black Power?” and “Please Stop Helping Us.”

He'll speak on the tragic lack of educational, social and economic advancement among many African-Americans in America and why black political success hasn’t made a difference.

Registration has ended.  To see if seats are still available, please call us at 414-225-9940.

What's new from the Badger Institute

Job Opportunity: Policy Analyst

The Badger Institute seeks a Policy Analyst for its newest initiative, the Center of Opportunity.  The Analyst will deploy cutting-edge research and compelling storytelling to advance criminal justice reform, occupational licensing reform and poverty alleviation.
Learn more about this new role at the Badger Institute.

Wisconsin: A Blueprint for More Workers

Report provides an overview of labor force participation in Wisconsin. Increasing the rate by just 1 percentage point would increase state GDP by $667 annually per resident. By Badger Institute visiting fellows Ike Brannon and Andrew Hanson.

Interactive map of labor force participation rates

An interactive map shows the labor force participation rate for every Wisconsin county. Washington County enjoys the highest participation rate (74.8%), while Adams County has the lowest rate (48.6%). View the map here.

Rethinking Wisconsin’s Highways

The Badger Institute this summer hosted transportation expert Bob Poole to discuss Rethinking Wisconsin’s Highways. Poole made the case that highways should be treated like public utilities to create a self-supporting infrastructure that responds to economic, not political, realities. He promoted public-private partnerships and user-based tolls to address the congestion, maintenance, funding battles and pork barrel spending associated with the status quo. Watch video here.

Badger Institute's new visiting fellows

Ike Brannon (left), president of the consulting firm Capital Policy Analytics in Washington, D.C., and Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University, provide the institute with research and commentary on topics ranging from labor force needs to immigration to minimum wages to tax subsidies. Read more here.

Diggings Spring 2018

Time to burn: So few fires to fight. By Dave Daley.
Government grows at expense of private sector. By Dave Lubach.
Clinging to an old picture. By Mike Nichols.
Regional approach offers solution. By Janet Weyandt.
Conservative young Wisconsin women defy stereotypes. By Emily Jashinsky.
From the ground up: A profile of Badger Mining Corp. By Betsy Thatcher.
Tax incremental financing is a recipe for abuse. By Richard Esenberg.
TIF: Valuable tool or crony capitalism? By Ken Wysocky.
Eschewing marriage and celebrating marriage. By Marie Rohde.
Marriage is a foreign concept to some. By Michael Jahr.
The road to driverless transit. By Baruch Feigenbaum.

Licensure reform levels playing field for aspiring chiropractors

Madison — A bill signed by Gov. Scott Walker on April 16 will allow aspiring chiropractors who pass the national board exam to secure a license in Wisconsin without having to attain an arbitrarily higher score set by the state. Read more here.

Institute launches Center for Opportunity

The Center will focus on public policies related to poverty alleviation, criminal justice, upward mobility and occupational licensing. The Institute also announces Visiting Fellows Program.

New federal tax law should prod Wisconsin to enact tax reform

Residents in high-tax states like ours are stung harder by cap on state/local tax deduction. By visiting fellow Jay Miller.

Licensure reform helps barbers, cosmetologists

Barber Albert Walker looks on as Gov. Scott Walker signs licensure reform bills on Nov. 27.Madison — Barbers, cosmetologists and other beauty professionals will now be able to practice their professions with fewer regulatory burdens after Gov. Scott Walker  signed into law reforms that will reduce complicated and costly licensing requirements. Read more here.


Government's love for licensure

Read our report, “Government’s love for licensure,” which tells the real-world stories of Wisconsinites stymied by the state's burdensome licensure system. Reforms signed into law in November remove some of the regulations highlighted in the report.

More stories and videos

The Badger Institute also profiled business people and entrepreneurs hampered by Wisconsin's licensure rules:

Albert Walker, an ex-offender whose clients include many Packers players, has years of barbering experience but, until recently passed reforms, couldn't run his own shop due to onerous state licensing regulations. Watch video of Albert Walker. Read his story.


UW-Madison students Samuel Haack and James Rohde want to launch an on-demand barbering business to connect clients with barbers off premises. But Wisconsin's professional licensing regulations stood in their way. Read their story.

The impact and influence of the Badger Institute




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Project for 21st Century Federalism

The Project for 21st Century Federalism is the Badger Institute's multi-year investigation of the growth in federal grants and their effect on state and local governance. Stories in the project include:

New book urges states to push back
Press release on "Federal Grant$tanding" book
Records request illustrates lack of transparency of federal school funding
Private school principals say federal funding process is flawed
Teachers want to help kids, not do paperwork
Educators decry feds' heavy-handed approach toward local schools
Survey of Wisconsin public school teachers who work under federally funded programs
Wisconsin school officials want federal role in local education reduced
Full school survey on federal funding
Invasion of the federal bean counters
Schools hire high-priced specialists to deal with complex federal grant rules
Federal rules distort local education policy
► Wisconsin legislators missing opportunity in ESSA to take control of education
► The bureaucratic 'skim' of federal school funding
The federalization of Wisconsin DPI
Analysis: Cash-strapped school districts burdened by federal grant regulations
While poverty persists for St. Croix Chippewa, tribe officials misuse federal funds, audit shows
Press release on the launch of the Federal Grant$tanding project

Badger Institute's media mentions

How licensing reform can help states and veterans
Real Clear Policy: Oct. 10, 2018

Badger book on federal grants
Cato Institute: Oct. 1, 2018

Wisconsin's criminal expungement rules keep needed workers out of jobs, study says
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: June 6, 2018

Bureaucracy devours funds that could support teaching
Deseret News: May 22, 2018

Analysis highlights tax migration exodus from Wisconsin March 26, 2018

GOP tax bill provision aims to spark investment in low-income neighborhoods
Wisconsin Public Radio: March 18, 2018

Michael Jahr discusses the Center for Opportunity
Right Wisconsin podcast: March 9, 2018

The Case Against The Kimberly-Clark 'Bailout' Plan
Wisconsin Public Radio: February 28, 2018

Wisconsin seeks to build new prison
"UpFront with Mike Gousha": February 24, 2018

The Kimberly-Clark bailout is a bad idea
Right Wisconsin: February 21, 2018

Licensing reform could fulfill aspiring chiropractor's lifelong dream
Right Wisconsin: February 20, 2018

Why toll roads are Wisconsin's only realistic solution to its transportation roadblock
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: February 14, 2018

Tax credit, welfare reform among key issues facing Wisconsin lawmakers
Wisconsin Watchdog: February 9, 2018

The Badger Institute: Value-added tolling would address Gov. Walker’s concerns February 8, 2018

Value-added tolling would address Gov. Walker’s concerns
Urban Milwaukee: February 8, 2018

New law makes it easier on barbers
NBC26 in Green Bay: December 3, 2017

Other views: The festering mess that is Illinois
Janesville Gazette: November 29, 2017

Mike Nichols on federal tax spending at local school districts
The Jerry Bader Show: October 31, 2017

RightWisconsin Conversations with Michael Jahr
RightWisconsin podcast: October 25, 2017

WPRI becomes the Badger Institute
Today's TMJ4: October 24, 2017

Mike Nichols on name change from WPRI
The Jerry Bader Show: October 18, 2017

Local schools deserve local control
Sheboygan Press: October 1, 2017

Local schools deserve local control September 26, 2017

Walker objects to challenger's Wisconsin education plan September 14, 2017

Green Bay barber testifying to Legislature
Rock 94.7 FM: August 23, 2017

Green Bay barber testifying to Legislature August 23, 2017

Barber, UW student to explain how licensure stymies their startups August 23, 2017

Look down the road in transportation funding debate
The Cap Times: July 21, 2017

Wisconsin residents still pay a mother lode of taxes
Wisconsin State Journal: July 6, 2017

Dems attempt to mobilize lobbyists against licensing reform
Media Trackers: July 6, 2017

Local Wisconsin leaders react to Trump's visit
Washington Examiner: June 13, 2017

NFL barber shop faces same kind of threat hurting patients June 9, 2017

Study finds Wisconsin poverty rate reached new low in 2015
Wisconsin Watchdog: June 8, 2017

Federal grants are the key to restraining bureaucracy
Washington Examiner: May 11, 2017

Bills meant to deregulate cosmetologists and barbers earn praise, raise concerns
WSAW-TV: May 3, 2017

Proposed bill hopes to ease requirements for hair stylists and barbers
WTMJ-TV: May 1, 2017

Poole: Wisconsin should act now on interstate tolling
Journal Sentinel: April 17, 2017

A new approach for occupational licensing in Wisconsin
Sheboygan Press: April 7, 2017

Can Milwaukee be considered a 'donor' city?
Sheboygan Press: March 31, 2017

Federal grant funding obscures how government is funded, diffuses accountability
Sunshine Week website: March 14, 2017

Nichols, Brannon: Help kids succeed before they get to college
Journal Sentinel: March 5, 2017

Hanson: EITC expansion will help Wisconsin's low- and middle-income workers
Journal Sentinel: February 23, 2017

Nichols: Rebuilding lives and the economy
Journal Sentinel: February 12, 2017