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State Recovery Act Website:

Wisconsin's state Recovery Act website scored 45 out of 100 possible points (ranking 8th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The above average score reflects the fact that the state provided a breakdown of spending by broad and narrow program categories, county by county dollar allocations, project details, contractor award amounts, indication that the data was updated within the last month, and a centralized site with clear links. Contractor information: none.

Wisconsin scored same -35 out of 100 (ranking 29th)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's transportation data website includes county by county dollar allocations, a map of specific projects, descriptions of projects, contractor names and award amounts, status on how much of the project is complete, and an indication that the information had been updated within the last month. Contractor information: local projects here; state projects here; wages, hours, and amount contractor paid here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Wisconsin appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

The state does not have a comprehensive recovery plan document.

In January Gov. Jim Doyle created a state agency called the Office of Recovery and Reinvestment to serve as a clearinghouse for recovery information and run the state's recovery website. Staff members are on temporary assignment from other state agencies. The office was initially headed by Gary Wolter, President of Madison Gas and Electric. He was replaced by Chris Patton, the governor's deputy policy director.

In March, Gov. Doyle announced that Dale Cattanach, a former State Auditor and Secretary of the Department of Transportation, would serve as the state's Recovery Accountability Compliance Officer. In this role, Cattanach will be in charge of providing independent analyses to ensure compliance with the accountability and transparency requirements of the Recovery Act. Working with Cattanach will be Jane Hamblen, Chief Legal Counsel for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, and the auditing and accounting firm Jefferson Wells.

Policy Debates

In March the legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved 49 road and bridge projects that would be funded by the state's $529 million in ARRA highway funding. In April Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, noting that the Recovery Act emphasizes the need for spending in distressed areas, complained that the state was giving priority to projects in affluent suburbs ahead of ones in the city. City officials also pressed the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to focus on projects located in inner-city areas. The Commission decided on a compromise that gave Milwaukee nearly 40 percent of the funding while still approving a major suburban highway project in Washington County.

In May the legislature passed a bill that modernized the state's unemployment insurance system in order to receive an additional $89 million in federal UI funding. The bill also paved the way for the state to take advantage of various other forms of stimulus spending. In August, USA Today ranked Wisconsin the second best state in the country for using stimulus funds to support jobs.

Last updated on: 15 October, 2009

Quick Facts


Median Household Income:

Unemployment Rate:

Poverty Rate:

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$3.8 billion

Watchdog Groups

Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)

Institute for Wisconsin's Future

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families

WisPIRG (Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group)



In April, 2009, COWS released a report, Greening Wisconsin's Workforce: Training, Recovery, and the Clean Energy Economy, examining in part the ways in which Recovery Act funds for clean energy can be used to benefit the state’s working families. The organization has also discussed ARRA-related issues in its monthly newsletter, COWS Notes.

In February, shortly after President Obama signed ARRA, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released a Comparative Summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Its Implications for Wisconsin, examining approximately 60 parts of the Act and their implications for the state.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been publishing a series of articles under the rubric of Follow the Money: How Stimulus Funds are Being Spent.

In March 2009 WISPIRG and Smart Growth America published Spending the Stimulus: How Wisconsin Can Put Thousands Back to Work & Jump-Start a 21st Century Transportation System; online here.

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