Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walker's Lack Of Real Job Plan Becomes Painfully Evident

During the campaign, Scott Walker talked a good game on how he was going to create 250,000 jobs by attracting all sorts of new businesses. Many observers on both sides of the aisle questioned the realism of such boastful claims, especially in light of the fact that Walker didn't really have a plan on how to go about keeping this promise.

But now that it's time for Walker to put our money where his mouth is, his lack of a real job plan is becoming painfully obvious.

During the campaign, the one plank platform that Walker kept hammering and yammering on was that taxes were too high and that was making Wisconsin an unfriendly business environment. But that is not really true, but just common rhetoric from his usual campaign donors, like WMC.

In reality, even in 2007, Wisconsin was below national averages in business taxes:

Ernst & Young provides two methods for calculating Wisconsin's business tax rank compared with other states. One calculates total business taxes as a percentage of total personal income. The other takes total business taxes as a percentage of private-sector gross state product ' that is, the total value of private business activity.

In 2005, Wisconsin ranked 31st among the states using the first method and 33rd using the second. This approximates Forward Wisconsin's claim, based on data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, that Wisconsin's business taxes are 'lower than those in 35 other states.'

Indeed, if corporations in Wisconsin were paying taxes simply at the U.S. average, this would annually generate nearly one billion dollars in additional revenue for state and local governments.

This would be enough to reverse statewide service cuts, which range from bus routes and library hours to road repair and school staffing. Or it would more than plug the state's $1.6 billion two-year budget gap.

The article also cites a comment from Edward Zore, CEO of Northwestern Mutual Life, who said at the time that if they were looking at a new location, their current one is not anywhere being a top contender. The problem wasn't taxes, but lack of college graduates for their workforce.

Of course, the brain drain for Wisconsin is a continuing problem, which stems mostly from the relatively low wages that are paid in Wisconsin as well as a generally lower quality of life level.

So far, the only things that Walker has done to attract new businesses his continue with his empty campaign rhetoric and set up a web site inviting businesses to bad mouth Wisconsin's business climate and tell him how to attract new businesses.

It is more than a little scary that only now after he has won the election he is admitting he doesn't know what to do and needs help.

But that is a very true statement, especially when one considers all the things he has done to deter business from wanting to stay in the state much less relocating to Wisconsin.

As county executive, he has refused to make Milwaukee County, the state's most populated county, increasingly unattractive. He has continuously cut mass transit services making it harder for businesses to get workers or customers. He has also decreased our quality of life to the point where county-owned buildings are actually falling on people, our parks are trash dumps and public safety is becoming very unsafe.

Along the same lines, two years ago when there was a big push to have a dedicated sales tax be created to support our parks and transit systems, Walker actively opposed businesses and pro-business groups, like the Greater Milwaukee Commission, who were asking the state to allow this to go through.

Walker also has shown a complete disregard for any sort of economic development by using those positions to give his campaign workers and cronies cushy jobs. Then, after they proved to be uniquely unqualified for the job, he eliminates the positions altogether so that even if a business wanted to come to Milwaukee County, there was no liaison to smooth their way.

But even worse than that is the way he has been treating businesses here as well as groups meant to attract new businesses.

It was Walker that called the efforts of M7, the group that was working so hard to bring companies to the Milwaukee area, like Talgo and Ingeteam, as "putting lipstick on a pig."

During his campaign to end jobs by killing high speed rail in Wisconsin, Walker ignored the jobs that have already been created as well as the thousands of other jobs that would have come with the project. Then when Talgo threatened to pull up stakes and leave, Walker tried to sweet talk them into staying, but then turned around and stabbed them in the back by asking the feds to cut their sales in half.

If you think that other business aren't paying attention to how Walker is already treating companies like Talgo, you are only kidding yourself. Walker's habit of putting his ideology before the public interest will also have a very negative ripple effect, with Talgo being a prime example.

Talgo is already making noise about leaving the state if Walker follows through with his threat to kill high speed rail. Governor Quinn of Illinois has already sent them an invitation to come to his state if they chose to relocate. At least one Talgo official has said that such a move is under consideration.

Now if Talgo goes, the companies that were supplying them with materials will lose their orders, causing them to either lay off workers and/or look at relocating somewhere else as well. Likewise, the businesses that were benefiting from the workers spending their paychecks at their establishments will suffer and so forth. Much like the scare that was produced in Fond du Lac when Mercury Marine threatened to pull up stakes and move out of state, the loss of income and jobs would be devastating.

Furthermore, other companies will see what is going on and wonder if they could expect the same type of treatment from Walker's administration. This could cause them to reconsider coming to Wisconsin if they aren't already here, and if they are here, make them reconsider if they want to stay.

To add to this self-induced miasma that Walker is about to create is the fact that without all of these jobs, state revenues will drop and this will lead to Walker making more cuts to services that directly affect our quality of life and making the state even less attractive.

I am sure the reader can see how this would start a very nasty downward spiral.

And to think, we could have elected someone like Tom Barrett, who had a real job plan. Again I ask, is it too early to say "I told you so?"

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