Wednesday, June 28, 2006

'Business climate' plot thickens

as WMC waddles up to the trough

Excuse my cynicism, but this is all beginning to seem a little more orchestrated every day.

1. A Waukesha business executive makes noises about leaving Wisconsin because (a) it's business climate is bad, and (b) public officials are not kissing his rear end. Listening to RedPrairie.

2. A representative of a Florida aviation firm tantalizes Manitowoc with visions of a new industry coming to town, then says the next day the business climate is too bad, so no deal. The rep turns out to be a Republican county chairman. Something fishy in Manitowoc.

3. Right on cue, the stage having been set, enter Wis. Manufacturers and Commerce chief Jim Haney with a solution -- actually, three solutions:
We must think out of the box and take bold steps. Wisconsin should strongly consider:

Eliminating the corporate income tax -- That's right, not reducing it, not providing more credits, getting rid of it altogether. Not only would this send a message that Wisconsin is serious about attracting employers, but it would help Wisconsin exporters deal with WTO regulations that favor nations with no or lower corporate income taxes.

Cutting individual income taxes,especially the top rate -- Reducing taxes make jobs in Wisconsin more attractive to the "creative" or 'innovative' class. Bike trails and fun entertainment are nice, but companies need to be able to provide competitive salaries and high income taxes make that difficult.

Eliminating the personal property tax -- The personal property tax directly discourages capital investment by businesses. Wisconsin could significantly improve its business climate by eliminating the last remaining business equipment property taxes, the only personal property tax allowed.
OK, I'm game. Let's think outside of the box and take some bold steps.

Maybe we could start with asking corporations and the top wage-earners to pay their fair share, and closing some loopholes.

Wisconsin's top income tax rate is already the lowest it has been since 1931. The last round of cuts arguably contributed to the state's recent fiscal problems.

The share of state taxes paid by business has steadily declined. A 2004 Ernst and Young study showed Wisconsin ranked near the bottom in the share of state revenue raised from corporate taxes. There are other studies and other measurements, but all will tell you the same thing -- Wisconsin's business taxes are not out of line, and are actually on the lower end of the scale. There's a Federal Reserve Report that ranks Wisconsin 50th in share of state and local taxes paid by business. Forward Wisconsin says Wisconsin is fourth lowest in state and local business taxes.

Meanwhile, the proportion of property taxes paid by individuals gone from 50% in 1970 to 70% today. In other words, individual property taxes are up because of a tax shift from business.

The WMC release may just be Haney trying to capitalize on an opportunity. But this is all beginning to look and smell like a deliberate plan to inject business tax breaks into the governor's race, a la 1986 -- the election that brought us 16 years of reckless Republican spending and dug the state into a huge financial hole.


At 1:29 PM, Blogger XOut said...

Yes. It's a 100 year old conspiracy. The first element was amending the state constitution to allow for the income tax. Then Republicans and WMC drove up local property taxes to obscene levels – just so they could defeat Doyle in 2006.

Nice work. You ‘outed’ them.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Joe Klein said...

Think out of the box. How about a flat tax without loopholes, but with programs that offer health and education benefits that will, in effect, act as tax relief for low to moderate incomes.

Target reductions in the overall tax rate to bring Wisconsin into the middle range for all states.

Use technology to increase efficiency of the government. Initiate campaign reform; then, for good measure, kick the concrete lobbyist, national computer consulting firms and telecommunications lobbyist out of the state. The last three seem to me to be the biggest current drain between highway spending, projects like state voter lists, and Badgernet II.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger thehammer said...



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