Non-profit

Badger Institute

Location:

Milwaukee, WI

Tax ID:

39-1592727

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $1,303,609
Expenses: $1,008,939
Assets: $3,127,634

Formation:

1988

Type:

Non-profit

President:

Mike Nichols

President's Salary:

$195,550[35]

The Badger Institute (formerly the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute) is a non-partisan, public policy think tank that advocates for policy supporting free markets, limited government, and private initiative. The Institute’s main areas of focus are taxes, education, and criminal justice. [1]

The Badger Institute is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. [2] While the Institute is non-partisan, members of its board and staff have affiliations with the Republican Party.

Activity

The Badger Institute is a non-partisan, public policy think tank that advocates for policy supporting free markets, limited government, and private initiative. The Institute’s main areas of focus are taxes, education, and criminal justice. [3]

The Badger Institute advocates for tax reform and in 2019, partnered with the Tax Foundation to put together a reform proposal that included suggestions like establishing a flat income tax rate, repealing the personal exemption, repealing tangible personal property taxes, reducing corporate income tax, and expanding the sales tax base. [4] The Badger Institute also supports collecting online sales tax revenue, expanding the earned income tax credit, and levying property taxes on certain non-profit groups. The Institute did not support a 2020 bill that would allow a propane tax to be set and applied by a private group. [5]

The Badger Institute has been advocating for education reform and promoting school choice since the 1980s. The Institute supports the use of educational vouchers, the expansion of charter schools, and parental choice. [6] The Institute is critical of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and points to low performance in public schools, claiming that it is not an issue of funding and that the system needs a complete overhaul. [7] The Badger Institute also believes that MPS’s curriculum should not include cursive writing in underperforming schools or coding competency requirements for high schools. [8]

In 2016, the Badger Institute began Project for 21st Century Federalism, in order to investigate the affects of increased federal grants on state and local governance. The Institute claims that federal grants received by the state only increase the tax burden of individuals, that Native American tribes in Wisconsin have long been misusing federal housing funds, and that federal grants for public schools have little benefit to students while costing taxpayers millions of dollars. [9]

In 2018, the Badger Institute launched its Center for Opportunity, which focuses on public policy related to criminal justice, poverty alleviation, and occupational licensing from a free-market perspective. [10] The Badger Institute also leads the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coalition, whose other members are Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin, Americans for Tax Reform, and the American Conservative Union Foundation. The Coalition published its most recent recommendations for criminal justice reform in 2021, which include lowering maximum caps for extended supervision and incentivizing the Department of Corrections to increase the number of people completing their terms of supervision, eliminating age restrictions and allowing for partial expungements, and increasing transparency for police departments, especially as it regards use-of-force policies and incidents. [11]

Funding

The Badger Institute is funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. While the Institute does not disclose its donors, tax filings show notable donations from Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which contributed over $8.24 million between 2000 and 2018;[12] the Bradley Impact Fund, which contributed $392,500 between 2013 and 2018;[13] and the Charles Koch Foundation, which contributed $128,000 between 2017 and 2018. [14]

People

Staff

Michael Jahr is the senior vice president of the Badger Institute. Jahr formerly worked as the communications director at the Kern Family Foundation, the vice president of communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and as the communications director and press secretary for former U.S. Representative John Hostettler (R-IN). Jahr serves as a member of the Milwaukee Reentry Council. [15]

David Fladeboe is a public affairs associate with the Institute. Fladeboe formerly worked as the policy director to former Wisconsin State Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R), the state director of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), and the director of strategy and innovation of AFP’s national office. [16]

Kirsten Golinski is a development associate at the Institute and formerly served as a campaign field representative for the Institute for Legislative Action for the 2018 midterm elections in Missouri. [17]

Julie Grace is as a policy analyst in the Badger Institute’s Center for Opportunity. Grace formerly worked as a policy and communications advisor to former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI). [18]

Visiting fellow Andrew Hanson is an associate fellow for the R Street Institute. Hanson formerly worked as a staff economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the George W. Bush Administration. [19]

Visiting fellow Ike Brannon is a former senior fellow for the George W. Bush Institute. Brannon formerly worked as the director of economic policy for the American Action Forum, as chief economist for the Republican Policy Committee, and as a senior adviser for tax policy at the Department of the Treasury. [20]

Visiting fellow Ed Timmons serves on the board of policy advisors for the Heartland Institute and as a senior affiliated scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. [21]

Visiting fellow Eloise Anderson formerly served as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families during Governor Scott Walker’s (R-WI) administration, as the director of the California Department of Social Services, and as administrator of the Division of Community Services under former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI). [22]

Visiting fellow Jay Miller formerly worked as a trial attorney in the tax division of the Department of Justice. [23]

Visiting fellow Robert W. Poole Jr. is the director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation. Poole formerly served as an infrastructure advisor to the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and as an advisor to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the National Economic Council, the Government Accountability Office, and the White House Office of Policy Development. [24]

Board of Directors

Tom Howatt serves as the chair of the Badger Institute and on the board of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation. Howatt formerly served on the board of the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement. [25]

David Baumgarten serves on the boards of the Milwaukee Development Corporation and the Greater Milwaukee Committee. [26]

Ave Bie formerly served as chair of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, as deputy secretary for both the Department of Corrections and the Department of Regulation and Licensing, and as director of appointments for former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI). [27]

Gail Hanson formerly worked as the deputy executive director for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Hanson currently serves on boards of the Kern Family Foundation and the Deferred Compensation Board for the State of Wisconsin. [28]

Corey Hoze formerly worked as the director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, the regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the administrator of the Division of Economic Development for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. [29]

David Lubar serves on the boards of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee. [30]

Lisa Mauer serves on the board of the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Mauer formerly served as president of the Wisconsin Industrial Distributors Association. [31]

Jim Nellen serves on the board of the Wisconsin United for Health Foundation. Nellen formerly served as the chair of the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges, the president of Competitive Wisconsin, and on the boards of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. [32]

Maureen Oster serves as a regulation advisor to the Governor’s Council on Economic Issues and formerly served as a trustee of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. [33]

Tim Sheehy serves as president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, as chair of the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation, on the boards of Teach for America, School Choice Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Charter School Association, Schools That Can Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Succeeds, and as a Regional Sustainable Development Fellow for the Ford Foundation. Sheehy formerly worked as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and served as chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. [34]

References

  1. “Our Mission.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Mission-statement.htm. ^
  2. “The Network: Wisconsin.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://spn.org/directory/#WI. ^
  3. “Our Mission.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Mission-statement.htm. ^
  4. Loughead, Katherine, Walczak, Jared, and Bishop-Henchman, Joseph. “Wisconsin Tax Options.” Badger Institute, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/BI-Files/Reports/WITaxOptionsBook.pdf. ^
  5. “Tax Reform.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/BI/Initiatives/Tax-reform.htm. ^
  6. “Education.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/Initiatives/Education.htm. ^
  7. Whitworth, Shannon. “MPS needs an overhaul; Milwaukee kids deserve better.” Badger Institute, February 18, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/Commentary/MPS-needs-an-overhaul-Milwaukee-kids-deserve-better.htm. ^
  8. “Teaching cursive and/or coding: Where should Wisconsin draw (or type) the line?” Badger Institute, May 7, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/News/2019-2020/Teaching-cursive-andor-coding-Where-should-Wisconsin-draw-or-type-the-line.htm. ^
  9. “Project for 21st Century Federalism.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/BI/Initiatives/The-Project-for-21st-Century-Federalism.htm. ^
  10. “Badger Institute launches Center for Opportunity.” Badger Institute, February 14, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/media/Press-Releases/Badger-Institute-launches-Center-for-Opportunity.htm. ^
  11. “Criminal Justice Reform Recommendations for Wisconsin Policymakers.” Badger Institute, 2021. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/BI-Files/Reports/CJRRecommendations2021.pdf. ^
  12. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2000-2018, Part XV, Line 3a. ^
  13. Bradley Impact Fund, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2013-2018, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  14. Charles Koch Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2017-2018, Part XV, Line 3a. ^
  15. “Michael Jahr.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Michael-Jahr.htm. ^
  16. “David Fladeboe.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/David-Fladeboe.htm. ^
  17. “Kirsten Golinski.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Staff/Kirsten-Golinski.htm. ^
  18. “Julie Grace.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Staff/Julie-Grace.htm. ^
  19. “Andrew Hanson.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Visiting-Fellows-Program/Andrew-Hanson.htm. ^
  20. “Ike Brannon.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Visiting-Fellows-Program/Ike-Brannon.htm. ^
  21. “Dr. Edward Timmons.” Saint Francis University. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.francis.edu/edward-timmons/. ^
  22. “Eloise Anderson.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Visiting-Fellows-Program/Eloise-Anderson.htm. ^
  23. “Jay Miller.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Visiting-Fellows-Program/Jay-Miller.htm. ^
  24. “Robert W. Poole Jr.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Visiting-Fellows-Program/Robert-W.-Poole-Jr.htm. ^
  25. “Tom Howatt, Board Chairman.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-US/Howatt.htm. ^
  26. “David Baumgarten.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/Baumgarten.htm. ^
  27. “Ave Bie.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/Bie.htm. ^
  28. “Gail L. Hanson.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Board-of-Directors/Gail-L.-Hanson.htm. ^
  29. “Corey Hoze.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/Corey-Hoze.htm. ^
  30. “David Lubar.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/Lubar.htm. ^
  31. “Lisa Mauer.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About/Board-of-Directors/Lisa-Mauer.htm. ^
  32. “Jim Nellen.” Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/James-W-Nellen-II.htm. ^
  33. “Maureen Oster.” LinkedIn, 2021. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/maureen-oster-97061b13/. ^
  34. Badger Institute, 2020. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.badgerinstitute.org/About-Us/TSheehy.htm. ^
  35. Badger Institute, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section A, Line 1a. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. State Policy Network (SPN)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1988

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Mar Form 990 $1,303,609 $1,008,939 $3,127,634 $55,331 N $1,195,985 $38,985 $43,935 $204,202 PDF
    2017 Mar Form 990 $494,081 $910,229 $2,680,016 $52,480 N $422,631 $27,184 $43,617 $198,863
    2016 Mar Form 990 $933,478 $732,721 $2,852,149 $22,099 N $725,598 $23,540 $46,741 $192,774 PDF
    2015 Mar Form 990 $646,042 $682,259 $2,896,336 $56,920 N $518,440 $20,995 $32,714 $183,696 PDF
    2014 Mar Form 990 $687,781 $607,549 $1,968,508 $0 N $548,261 $0 $30,066 $177,701 PDF
    2013 Mar Form 990 $672,091 $930,057 $1,888,276 $0 N $600,672 $0 $58,530 $189,432 PDF
    2012 Mar Form 990 $695,036 $942,350 $2,146,242 $0 N $649,490 $0 $33,433 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Badger Institute

    633 W WISCONSIN AVE STE 330
    Milwaukee, WI 53203-1918