A new report ranks Wisconsin 10th in the nation for state and local debt service.
Recent federal figures show state and local governments devoted a growing number of tax dollars in 2006 towards paying off debts. State debt was at $1,619 per person and local debt was at $1,439 per person.
Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry says growing debt service have a dramatic impact on government. He says dedicating more tax dollars to debt can result in state and local service being cut back, or it can force government to borrow even more money and increase the debt load.
Berry says Wisconsin's growing debt has only really come to the forefront over the past two decades. He says promises, such as the state saying it would pay for two-thirds of education in the 90s, lead to a great deal of local bonding. More recently, he says state government has turned to bonds to help delay the impacts of budget shortfalls.
Berry says government needs to focus on reducing the debt, largely by avoiding additional borrowing. He says public officials need to make a commitment to stop delaying financial problems and come to grips with them.