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A look back at Wisconsin’s Police Funding

Wisconsin's Police Funding

Welcome back to “Summarizing Wisconsin Policy Forum Reports, because only nerds read Wisconsin Policy Forum Reports”. We take a look back at Wisconsin’s Police Funding.


What do you think about the amount of money we’re spending on police? #wisconsin #publicpolicy #wisconsingirl #sconnie

♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists

Like much of the country, Wisconsin’s police spending has increased as a share of municipal spending. According to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report, law enforcement is the biggest line item in Wisconsin municipal budgets, receiving about one out of every five dollars spent in cities in the state.

In fact, state data shows municipalities in Wisconsin spent $219 per capita in 2018, amounting to inflation-adjusted increases of 29.8% since 1986 and 6.4% since 2000. While this number has slightly decreased from its peak in 2013, the Wisconsin’s Police Funding increased.

But that leaves us with one question: What’s caused the increase?

Apparently, it’s not more officers. The number of police officers sworn in has generally lagged population growth in the state’s largest cities.

This means the yearly increases are likely going to salaries and benefits, which makes this the perfect time to bring up Act 10. Act 10, a hot topic in Wisconsin under Gov. Scott Walker (R), repealed most collective bargaining for state and local employees, but it excluded most police unions.

In other words, are other public employees getting the short end of the stick?


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