There are a couple of surprises contained in the latest annual report card from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX). The first has to do with the state’s critical highway infrastructure, where the percentage of state highways in those top two “smoothness” categories fell during the two year period between 2009 and 2011.
“What we look at is federal highway data that measures the smoothness of roads,” explained Alliance President Todd Berry. “We have fallen from about 58 percent being in the highest categories to about 40 percent. And for these kinds of data that don’t move very fast, that’s a pretty dramatic move in two years, and is below the national average and below all the states around us.”
The data is contained in the annual in the annual Measuring Success: Benchmarks for a Competitive Wisconsin report card from the Taxpayers Alliance President, and comes as the state continues to seek a way to address longterm transportation funding shortfalls. “We knew two years ago, five years ago, even ten years ago, that we hadn’t come to grips with how we were going to pay for our appetite for various types of transportation,” noted Berry.
The Measuring Success report also indicates that per capita income in Wisconsin is not keeping pace with the rest of the country, or with top performing states in the Midwest. The state’s per capita personal income trailed the U.S. average by 5.5 percent in 2012. State per capita personal income last year was $40,537 dollars, compared to $42,693 for the U.S.
“Wisconsin’s per capital personal income has long lagged the country. We’ve been below the national average since probably the late sixties or early seventies,” Berry said. Incomes here lost ground in the recession, then picked up again before dropping off last year. “You’ve got to take these numbers with a grain of salt, but it’s fair to say that we bounced back from the recession then sort of got frozen in place the last three or four years.”
The Measuring Success report is prepared annually by WISTAX for Competitive Wisconsin, Incorporated, a nonpartisan consortium of business, education, labor, and farm leaders. This is the 15th year that the report has been published.