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Wisconsin Gov’t Workers Spend Thousands on Netflix

Four bureacracies spend taxpayer money on streaming entertainment

Wisconsin taxpayers are footing the bill for thousands of dollars in state government subscriptions to Netflix.com. Four sprawling state bureaucracies combined spent $4,819.36 in fiscal year 2013 on Netflix subscriptions. Those agencies are the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Health Services and the Department of Transportation. The Department of Corrections spent more than any other agency.

Netflix.com is a popular movie rental service that offers both online and hard copy movies to subscribers. Viewers can pay for various subscription packages that range from offering just online viewing to online viewing and by-mail movie rental and return. Television shows and movies are available through Netflix, and the company has even started pioneering its own web-only shows such as House of Cards, a remake of a BBC original featuring the dark inner workings and intrigue of Washington D.C. politics.

For the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2014, Wisconsin taxpayers have paid for $3,777.00 in Netflix subscriptions. Like 2013, the biggest subscriber was the Department of Corrections.

In fiscal year 2012, bureaucrats spent $1,726.72 in taxpayer money on Netflix. For fiscal year 2011 no expenditures to Netflix.com appear on OpenBook.WI.gov, a spending transparency website created by Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Subscriptions to Netflix, according to their website, start at $7.99 per month for online access. For an additional $7.99 per month subscribers can buy the “one DVD out-at-a-time” plan for hard copies of movies.

Assuming all state government subscriptions are online-only plans, that means in 2013 there were approximately 603 months worth of state government subscriptions to Netflix. Taxes and other subscription plans would change that figure.

EDITORIAL NOTE: An earlier version of this report was unclear as to whether the 603 months worth of subscriptions were annual subscriptions or monthly subscriptions. Netflix is a month-to-month subscription website.

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