Wisconsin’s long-term fiscal health is better, but average nationally

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


Wisconsin’s long-term fiscal health is better, but average nationally

With $15.8 billion in long-term liabilities and a population of 5.8 million, the state owed $2,739 per capita in 2017. That amount was down slightly from 2016 ($2,802), but was higher than all other years since 2002.

When liabilities are compared to total state assets, long-term health weakened during 2002-11, largely because of rising state debt. In 2002, liabilities were 34.4% of state assets; by 2011, they were 41.2%. After 2011, growth in state debt slowed and then leveled off. With total assets continuing to rise, Wisconsin’s long-term liability ratio dropped to 37.5% in 2014 and to 34.5% in 2017.

Wisconsin’s long-term health is improving. However, on all three commonly used long-term health measures, Wisconsin is about average when compared to other states. National figures from 2015 show Wisconsin ranked 24th among the states on long-term liabilities per capita; 25th on the long-term liability ratio; and 26th on net asset ratio.

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education.