Give the state treasurer a job

If Wisconsin lawmakers heed the voters’ unmistakable message in April's vote rejecting a constitutional amendment to abolish the treasurer's office, the Legislature can take meaningful steps toward fiscal responsibility.

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Join us July 24 for lunch, presentation and book signing

Infrastructure is critical to public safety and economic development. Yet without additional highway funding, the portion of the Wisconsin highway system in poor or worse condition will increase from 20 percent in 2014 to 42 percent in 2023. According to the latest state highway systems report, Wisconsin ranks 38th in highway performance and cost-effectiveness. Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, offers alternatives to increasing borrowing or the gas tax.

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Badger Institute seeks
Development Associate

Are you passionate about free markets and creating a more prosperous Wisconsin? Are you ready to launch a rewarding fundraising career that connects passionate supporters to a cause they care about? The Badger Institute seeks a Development Associate that will be part of a small fundraising and communications team that supports its public policy programs. This full-time position will provide support to senior staff with a focus on acquisition and stewardship efforts for individual donors and foundations.

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Save the date: Oct. 23

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.

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Arbitrary tax breaks neither good policy nor good economics

Broad-based Wisconsin tax reform should be the goal, not short-term targeted breaks that benefit only a narrow class of taxpayers.
By Badger Institute visiting fellow Jay Miller.

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What's new from the Badger Institute

Save the date!

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.

For more information or to register, click here.

Badger Institute names two 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, will provide the institute with research and commentary on a wide variety of topical issues 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: Valuable tool or crony capitalism? By Ken Wysocky.
Tax incremental financing is a recipe for abuse. By Richard Esenberg.
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 on Nov. 27 signed into law reforms that will reduce complicated and costly licensing requirements. Read more here.


Government's love for licensure

Read our April 2017 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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Webinar on Interstate tolling for Wisconsin

View our June 26, 2017, webinar featuring Robert W. Poole Jr. on the potential benefits of Interstate tolling as Wisconsin grapples with its perennial transportation funding dilemma. Poole is director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation and author of Rebuilding and Modernizing Wisconsin's Interstate with Toll Financing.

Rating YoungStar

How Wisconsin's child care quality rating and improvement system measures up. Wisconsin needs to continue YoungStar and make sure tax dollars do not flow to substandard providers.
By Rob Grunewald, Michael Jahr and Matt Snyder
June 2017

Black Robes & Blue Collars

Report identifies policy changes to Wisconsin's expungement and sentence adjustment laws that could lighten the state's prison load, increase employment opportunities for ex-offenders and help employers find workers.

► Problems with Wisconsin’s Expungement Law: How the Law is Used and How to Make It More Equitable and Effective 
► Sentence Adjustment Petitions: Are They Working?

Unlocking Potential

Report highlights strategies for reducing recidivism through investment in work, training and re-entry programs, and encourages the use of social impact bonds.
Wisconsin's historical policy dilemma on corrections
The state can't afford status quo
Re-entry program offers Hope for Prisoners
Alma Center: Breaking the cycle of abuse
MATC program puts offenders on career path
Private industry, prisons team up
Skilled trades program offers a second chance
Social impact bonds: A new way forward
Video of event in Milwaukee featuring Jon Ponder

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:

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

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

How a law designed to promote fairness is hiking gas prices in Wisconsin
The Daily Signal: February 9, 2017

Federalism is a watchword in new year
Rhinelander Daily News: February 2, 2017