Why are PPF and WISTAX merging?

By combining our organizations, we will have greater research capacity and knowledge, broader reach, and the ability to focus even more thoroughly on both state and local policymaking. Together, we can be a stronger voice to examine, analyze, inform, and educate on behalf of Wisconsin citizens.

Why now?

Increasingly, we see local policy issues that have major statewide implications; and, conversely, state-level decisions with huge local impacts. By merging the policy expertise and research skills of these two premier policy research organizations, we will be able to better analyze the variety of challenges (and promises) facing Wisconsin’s economy and its state and local governments.

Foxconn offers a case in point: a local development project based in southeast Wisconsin has huge implications not just for the region, but for the entire state and even the nation. Combining our resources will enhance our ability to pull apart the various “strings,” ranging from the impacts on local municipalities to the overall impact on the state’s economy and state government finances.

Further, the need for impartial, fact-based information for the public and policymakers has never been greater. In a highly partisan, politically charged environment, Wisconsin will benefit from our greater capacity to provide independent and highly credible analysis.

What are the benefits?

With offices in Milwaukee and Madison, the organization will include 11 full-time staff members, which will give us greater policy acumen, research capacity, and organizational efficiency. The merger also gives us greater ability to develop and deploy modern communications tools; it also provides a more diversified funding base and gives us a wider audience reach.

What will be your areas of focus?

We will maintain a deep and unwavering commitment to our respective founding values and areas of expertise. We will continue to examine state and local government, schools, and Wisconsin’s economy at the local, regional, and statewide level, as WISTAX has done since its inception; but we will not lose PPF’s traditional intense focus on metro Milwaukee and its deep dives into all types of policy issues, including local government finance, education, economic development, and social services. 

Specifically, we plan to:

  • Actively monitor and analyze trends in state and local government and school district finances, and use our expanded capacity to promote collaboration, efficiency, and other “best practices.”
  • Conduct more in-depth studies of major state and local fiscal and public policy issues.
  • Employ a wider range of communication tools to educate the public about state and local government operations and challenges.
  • Promote civics education, citizen engagement, and increased public participation in state and local government.

Will you remain nonpartisan?

Absolutely and unalterably. 

Should we expect the same types of research products we’ve come to value from PPF and WISTAX?

One of the driving factors behind this merger is our conviction that the combination of our two teams will enhance both the quality of our research and our collective research capacity.  We will continue to produce comprehensive reports that provide and analyze data on local governments and school districts across the state; shorter reports and newsletters that address the workings of state and local governments and specific fiscal and economic trends; budget analyses of state government and Milwaukee’s largest local governments; and in-depth reports that target policy challenges facing metro Milwaukee, state government, and all of the state’s local governments and school districts.

Will my membership or subscriber experience change?

Only for the better. In-depth reports, monthly or semi-monthly newsletters, speeches to business and civic groups, presentations to legislative bodies, robust public education, media interviews, and an increasingly sophisticated social and digital communications strategy will be our core offerings.

What will be the new governance structure?

As a true merger, our new executive committee will be comprised of equal representation from each previous organization. PPF President Rob Henken will serve as the organization’s president, with WISTAX Research Director Dale Knapp serving in the same capacity for the new organization. WISTAX President Todd Berry will continue to advise the team as the merger is finalized. We expect the legal entity to be formed by the end of the year, with other work, including the new name, to continue in 2018.