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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Wisconsin had the third-slowest increase in PreK-12 education spending per student in the nation between 2002 and 2020, according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. 

The only states with slower spending increases were Idaho and Indiana. Wisconsin’s increase of 48.6% — from $8,574 to $12,740 per student— was significantly lower than the national average of 75.2% — from $7,701 to $13,494.

Wisconsin’s spending per pupil ranked 25th in the nation and was nearly 6% lower than the national average for 2020. Given that the state had the 11th highest per-pupil spending in the nation in 2002, the drop in ranking over the past two decades has been “dramatic,” a Wisconsin Policy Forum researcher told WPR.

Less property and income taxation at the local and state levels in Wisconsin has been a major factor behind the slower growth in education spending, the forum found.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Wisconsin Policy Forum Wisconsin’s ranks in school spending, tax burden fall together

Wisconsin Public Radio Public school spending in Wisconsin saw third-slowest growth in nation

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Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.