News & Analysis

Governor Evers signed a budget passed by the Legislature that includes a more than 30% starting pay raise for assistant district attorneys and assistant public defenders and more flexibility for merit-based pay raises for attorneys currently in those roles. This makes the compensation for these roles more competitive and should reduce the high rates of turnover currently existing in District Attorney and public defender offices. 

The Badger Institute supports a flat-rate individual income tax, a structure increasingly adopted by competing states. We have spent years researching options for reform that includes a single, low rate. But if that is out of the question as budget negotiations proceed, the priority should be Wisconsin’s top rate.

Among the bills Republicans are considering in the Legislature is one eliminating the last remnants of Wisconsin’s personal property tax. The bill, AB2, sponsored by Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), would end property taxes on everything but real estate.The move is one the Badger Institute long has advocated.

The bargain struck Thursday between legislative leaders and the governor ensures the financial sustainability of the school choice and charter school programs but that also increases the low revenue ceiling for public school districts that are on the bottom of the revenue spectrum.

“This is good day for Wisconsin, and for anyone who cares about our children – parents who want more power over their kids’ education, teachers who work so hard, and school administrators who have long worried about sustainability,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols.

A deal that allows both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise sales taxes also requires that 25 police officers be placed back in crime-ridden Milwaukee Public Schools.  

“This is a great victory for all the good kids in MPS schools who just want to learn, want to be safe, want a way up,” said Mike Nichols, president of the Badger Institute, which has been pushing for cops in schools for much of the last year.

Thousands of Wisconsin renters caught a break when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a moratorium on evictions in September 2020, ostensibly to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But Wisconsin landlords like Mike Cerns had already paid the price. Cerns estimates he lost between $60,000 and $80,000 in unpaid rental income and the cost of repairing property damage from bad tenants he could not evict. “The federal government essentially stole my property during the eviction moratorium and the courts were an accessory to the theft,” he says.