Public Policy Forum Blog

City revenue structure report fueling discussion

The concluding paragraph of our recently released report on the City of Milwaukee’s revenue structure expresses the hope that it will "launch the type of thoughtful deliberation on Milwaukee's financial structure that its current fiscal challenges both demand and require." We are pleased to see that this hope is materializing.

Yesterday, UW-La Crosse Professor John Kovari published an op-ed on Urban Milwaukee discussing our report. In it, he argues that Milwaukee’s unique revenue structure is a cause for concern and highlights what he sees as strengths and weaknesses of both sales and property taxes. He also expresses his preference for a progressive marginal income tax over a city sales tax, though his number one option would be for the State to "ramp up state aid to at least what it was 20 years ago."

While the Public Policy Forum does not recommend a specific fix for Milwaukee's revenue challenges, we hoped that the models we offered based on our review of peer cities would prompt others to do so. We appreciate Dr. Kovari's insight on this matter, and we hope that our research continues to stimulate thoughtful dialogue on a possible new revenue structure for the State’s largest city.

Ben Juarez