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A first: Wisconsin's sales tax collections decrease last fiscal year

For the first time in its history, sales tax collections in Wisconsin went down in the last fiscal year.

The state collected $4.1 billion on consumer purchases in the fiscal year ending June 30.

That's down 4.3 percent from the year before.

The Bush economic stimulus checks drove up consumer spending last year and experts say the effect is long gone.

State analysts say personal incomes will drop 1 percent this year, but will rise by more than 2.5 percent in 2010.

Officials and retail analysts expect sales to go up slightly this fall.

But those numbers will be compared to dismal holiday sales from a year ago and stores expect to have lower inventories again this season.

Kohl's Department Stores of Menomonee Falls says its total merchandise will be 21 percent less than two years ago.

Meanwhile, sales tax collections kept rising in the last big recession in the 1980s because the tax jumped from 4 percent to 5 in 1982.

Wisconsin's sales tax began in 1962 at 3 percent. It's now 5.5 percent in most places, as county governments get a 0.5 percent of the take.