Expanding the coverage and quality of internet services remains an important challenge throughout Wisconsin. The Broadband Expansion Grant Program, managed by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, aims to assist in the development of internet services in “unserved” and “underserved” areas of the state by awarding grants to fund the building of new broadband infrastructure. This report evaluates the grant program by analyzing feedback from past grant applicants and recipients and by examining program data against American Community Survey data. Several recommendations to increase the equity and effectiveness of the grant program are provided.
In 2019, Wisconsin generated 76 percent of its electricity from non-renewable energy sources, including 42 percent from coal-fired plants and 34 percent from natural gas. These sources produce harmful pollutants and negatively affect the health …
We analyzed the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnership (GloMEEP), a project that assisted developing countries in regulating shipping emissions, through case studies of two nations: Panama and Argentina. Our analysis (1) evaluates project impact, (2) assesses in-country factors, and (3) synthesizes key takeaways.
Guardians ad Litem (GALs) are attorneys who play a critical role in the family court system by representing the best interests of children while providing a recommendation for custody and placement. Though GALs are required to investigate for domestic abuse in every case, survivors and advocates sometimes find that a thorough investigation was not completed. Our goal is to investigate the barriers GALs face in implementing best practices concerning domestic abuse. This report analyzes data collected through surveys of stakeholders, as well as 25 interviews conducted in select counties. Our analysis shows that GALs face distinct barriers to their practice and to addressing domestic abuse. These fell under five main categories: payments and payment systems, resources, training, uniformity, and pro se representation (or self-representation). We provide seven prioritized recommendations to address these issues through increased county responsibility and shared services, expanded training opportunities for family court professionals, and greater statewide oversight.
Focus on Energy is a ratepayer funded government organization that has been providing energy efficiency products and services to Wisconsin residents since 2001. However, low-income Wisconsinites have not benefited from the program as much as higher earning members of the community. As a result of shifting policy priorities, program administrators are beginning to identify obstacles causing this problem and seek out possible solutions. This report for Focus on Energy outlines barriers between low-income communities and the services Focus provides. It also puts forth possible solutions to help the organization better serve low-income residents of Wisconsin.
This report for the Brown County Refugee Task Force estimates the number of secondary refugees living in Brown County to better determine the total refugee population, which drives federal funding. It also provides the Task Force with an analysis of the service needs of refugees compared to the services provided by Task Force member organizations. Using client survey and focus group results, the report identifies key service needs of the refugee population in Brown County and makes recommendations to the Task Force for filling service gaps.
Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (SSCHC) is a federally qualified health clinic in Milwaukee. This report recommends strategies SSCHC can use to better identify the social determinants of health needs of its patients. In particular, SSCHC can strengthen its referral network to reduce housing insecurity in the community. Although SSCHC does not have the authority to implement housing policy, it can play an active role in advocating for policy changes as an influential stakeholder in the health and housing community. This report is informed by an analysis of SSCHC and Census data and interviews with SSCHC staff. These recommendations can improve SSCHC’s ability to connect patients with stable, safe, high-quality housing in Milwaukee, and position SSCHC to more effectively advocate for housing policies that benefit its patients.
Wisconsin municipalities rely heavily on the property tax to fund public services, such as street maintenance, police and fire protection, and parks and recreation. In 2005, the state enacted levy limits, or a restriction on the amount of additional revenue a municipality could raise through the property tax. Wisconsin municipalities can exceed their levy limit, but they must ask residents to increase their property taxes via a direct referendum. This report for The League of Wisconsin Municipalities examines the characteristics that contribute to successful levy-limit referenda.
Small businesses are vital to the State of Wisconsin, but many small businesses struggle to attract and retain workers because they cannot provide access to high-quality, affordable health insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid leave. This report reviews a range of policy alternatives that can enhance the ability of small businesses to provide benefits to employees. There is no silver bullet for addressing the concerns of all small businesses in providing benefits, but there are a range of options that policymakers can explore to help small businesses in Wisconsin.
The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) supports local initiatives in vulnerable communities around the world to help strengthen their resilience to violent extremism. This report utilizes case studies of Kenya, Kosovo, and the Philippines to analyze how each country incorporates local level actors within their respective National Action Plan (NAP) to prevent and counter violent extremism. To understand local efforts, we completed a three-step analysis. First, we performed a literature review covering both decentralization and decision space analysis. Next, we reviewed each NAP, giving a summary of the plan, its goals, and the stakeholders involved. Finally, we developed a qualitative coding schema to comprehensively assess NAPs in terms of best practices laid out by the United Nations. The analysis suggests GCERF can strengthen their local effectiveness by focusing on the following policy initiatives: promoting empowerment, supporting capacity building, and connecting with development agencies and NGO’s to improve decentralization outcomes.