Wisconsin has a proud history of prosperity through hard work and innovation. Wisconsinites are ready and willing to learn skills and put them to work. Our state also has a proud tradition of leadership in manufacturing, food production, and innovation in turning the results of medical, biological, and environmental research into valuable products. As our economy shifts from resource extraction and heavy industry to a high-tech future, Wisconsin can again take the lead in building an economy that benefits all workers and their families.
Did you know that most of the largest companies in Wisconsin pay no state income tax even when they are making record profits? This shifts the costs of public services and infrastructure to wage earners, small business owners, homeowners, and family farmers. A fair tax policy means everyone pays a fair share. Companies use our highways, ports, and rail lines and benefit from our schools and universities. They need to help pay for them. Fair taxation will strengthen Wisconsin by encouraging investment in local communities and putting more money back into the pockets of those who live and spend here. Simply collecting taxes owed could boost our economy by an estimated $100 million.
The income of the richest Wisconsinites is going up, while that of the poorest is going down, but Walker’s tax cuts disproportionately benefit those making between $215,000 and 315,000.
Rather than redefining “small business,” allowing foreign developers to buy up huge tracts of farmland, and deregulating mining, and handing state funds to poorly managed start-up ventures, it’s time for policies that are good for Wisconsinites. Letting multinational corporations set our public policy weakens our economy when companies move profits offshore and dodge paying their fair share of public costs. Small businesses and start-ups are the biggest source of new jobs, but current economic policies have stranded Wisconsin near the bottom in entrepreneurial activity. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's current policy does not require startups receiving state aid to create any jobs or to account for the state funds they receive. By restoring well-monitored start-up funding for promising new businesses farmland protection, wetlands protection, and a strong system of public schools and colleges, we can rebuild a sustainable economy that respects our way of life, from camping “Up North” to family businesses in the city and countryside.
Wisconsin currently ranks near the bottom in new business ventures, the main source of new jobs.
Money intended for schools, universities, aide to families, and the state’s rainy day fund must go for those purposes, not for unneeded highway projects and other campaign donor paybacks. Borrowing money for highway projects on an adjustable-rate loan leads to economic uncertainty for Wisconsin, just as the adjustable-rate mortgages led some homebuyers to financial collapse. Substituting one kind of debt for another is not a real solution to long-term economic stability. It will lead to the sort of “structural deficit” that the current administration pledged to fix.
Projected deficit produced by the 2013-2015 Wisconsin state budget.
We can do better! A mix of Wisconsin’s traditional economic strengths--manufacturing, dairy farming and other food production, and small business—and innovations in biotech, freshwater industries, and sustainable energy development is the key to rebuilding a strong economy. Fairer tax rates, more diligent tax collection, and strict accountability for tax-funded programs can ensure that these moneys are used as the voters intended: to restore Wisconsin’s excellence in public education, outdoor spaces, and prosperity for working families.