A strong economy, low gas prices, and the rise of ride-hailing services are possible factors driving a decline in bus ridership statewide and nationally.
Between 2014 and 2017, Wisconsin’s five largest transit systems each increased service overall, yet ridership declined among four of the five.
There appears to be no clear pattern among the more than 20 local governments that have adopted wheel taxes in the past few years.
One of the consequences of the tighter levy limits and relatively flat state aids to local governments in recent years appears to be less spending on local streets and roads.
Local governments are responsible for maintaining local roads in Wisconsin, funded by a mix of state aids and local revenues.
Wisconsin has allowed municipalities to charge a local vehicle registration tax, or “wheel tax” since 1967, but only in recent years has it become popular.
Wisconsin’s long-term health is improving, but on all three commonly used long-term health measures, it is about average when compared to other states.
Short-term health deteriorated during 2002-09 and Wisconsin’s fiscal health was weak through 2010 as expenditures exceeded revenues in five of nine years.
Gains in Wisconsin’s short-term fiscal measures since the recession are a positive sign for state finances, but it still ranks in the bottom half of states.
In 2017, three measures of Wisconsin’s short-term fiscal health were at their highest levels since at least 2002.