Just who are Republicans serving, business interests in the state, or a few radical right wing think tanks with their no tax pledges? Remember the “we’re a tax hell, Wisconsin’s bad for business” slogan they wanted on our license plates?
Answer: Surprisingly, business is not their top priority or area of expertise, although business does benefit as a result. Republicans are pushing a false frame, one where smaller government, not business taxcuts is the overriding agenda. It's where they keep more of their money, depriving government of it's ability to pay the bills, while soaking companies for campaign contributions.
In a not so surprisingly frank feature article in the Journal Sentinel Online, business CEO’s had other priorities. These are leaders of some high-growth Wisconsin companies on the issues that drive economic prosperity.
Kevin Conroy, of Third Wave Technologies: “You have incredible people, you have the kind of intellectual property resources that a university brings to bear, then you have all the sophisticated law firms and investment firms that help you as you mature. One of the themes for people at my age level was great schools. People got comfortable with the higher property taxes when they realized their kids were doing exceedingly well. I would say…the average entrepreneur isn't leaving Wisconsin because they're paying 6.75% income tax. I think the bigger problem comes back to is there a big enough core of technology opportunities that keep spinning off these things."
Michael Roth, of Stark Investments LP: "We look for people who are more family-attuned for the school factor. And the cost of living is a huge advantage. If people have lived on the East Coast in places like Greenwich - wow, it knocks their socks off to see the value for your dollar in Milwaukee."
Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council: "While taxes can be a hot button for some, if you look at the overall cost of doing business in Wisconsin, it's pretty moderate. Everything from the unemployment taxes, utility costs, availability of water and costs for that, land costs."
JSOnline Question: "It sounds like so far you guys are saying the things to start focusing on are not transportation and taxes, but talent, infrastructure, financing . . ."
Sue Marks, of Pinstripe LLC: "Infrastructure not just meaning roads, but Wi-Fi, broadband. So, from a public and private effort, what I hear us saying is we should be encouraging new start-ups, growth and spinoffs from existing businesses and retention."
Stan Rose CEO of Roche NimbleGen: "In our industry, we're competing with people in California, Massachusetts. And these aren't low-tax states."
Unless I'm missing something, I'm not getting the "Wisconsin is a tax hell for business" message here. That's because it's a phoney argument, used only to cut the size of government, while stuffing a few extra bucks in their pockets. If government isn't in control, who is? Republicans would say that it returns control back to the people, pretending government (we the people) was something it was not (some seperate entity), when we all know how much control we have over gas prices, energy costs, food prices, insurance premiums and health care treatment. Another words, we giving up control to for profit private interests: Corporate America.