Local Government Taxing, Spending and Economic Growth: New Evidence for Wisconsin
Wisconsin is generally viewed as a high tax state. Depending on how one measures tax burdens, Wisconsin's rankings range from either the top five, or right in the middle of the national average. While these rankings have always been a source of discussion in Wisconsin, the state's current budget deficit, and the proposed solutions, has renewed the public debate about Wisconsin's fiscal policies with a vengeance. Accusations of duplication of services, higher costs inherent to the small scale of operation and a general tendency to be "big spenders" have created a firestorm of controversy. Further, a range of business support organizations has renewed yet again the call for tax reductions in the name of economic growth. In this applied research study we again ask the fundamental question "are Wisconsin local taxes too high" but we address the research question from a slightly different direction. Rather than looking at local property values and corresponding tax generating abilities, we measure the influence of local spending and taxation decisions on local economic growth. If local spending and taxation levels are indeed too high, we should see a dampening affect on local economic growth rates.
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