State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Earlier today, the Senate Committee on Small Business that I serve on met to discuss payday loan regulations put forward by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The new regulations follow the payday loan bill, signed into law earlier this year.
When a new economic report is issued about
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released its 2010 edition of “
From the ALEC report:
“To give you a more in-depth look at which states are asking more from taxpayers—and in the process making their states less competitive— we have put together our very own top 10 list of biggest state losers for 2010.
Co-author of the report and highly-regarded economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer said in an ALEC press release, “Tax and economic policies are essential to the competiveness of our states. Most actions being taken in state capitals today—and practically all actions from
“The tax-and-spend attitude in
According to the release, the authors “found that states with a high and rising tax burden are more likely to drive away individuals and business, while those with lower and falling tax burdens are more likely to attract businesses and create jobs.”
The solution for the states: Reasonable spending limits. The report says, “If states would have simply allowed their spending to grow at the rate of population plus inflation (PPI) growth, they would (almost without exception) be sitting on budget surpluses instead of facing deficits.”
Some states have actually cut taxes.
ALEC concludes that
Here is the ALEC report and the ALEC press release.
Congratulations to the following businesses located in Senate District 28 that I represent that were named in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s list of
HNI Risk Services Inc.,
The Stevens Point Journal reports the pattern of
At one time,
Cropp believes several factors contribute to
Two noted experts shared their economic forecasts at a symposium presented at the state Capitol sponsored by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. Mike Knetter, the Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of
The absence of certain factors prevented
So what about
Our weaknesses prevent a faster climb out of our economic abyss. Manufacturing, a longtime Wisconsin trump card, has taken a back seat to a national shift toward knowledge and service economies.
UW Business School Dean Michael Knetter contends that because
Michael Knetter’s outlook and advice for
Richard Mattoon’s outlook and advice for
The state Senate Health Committee that I serve on conducted a public hearing Wednesday, February 24, 2010 about legislation that would exempt wellness programs from unfair trade or marketing practices. Under current
The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in its analysis of SB 502 writes, “A wellness program is designed to promote health or prevent disease by offering a reward to insured individuals.” Wellness programs include smoking cessation weight loss, stress management, and nutrition improvement.
Meg Christianson, a nurse coach for Humana that provides coverage to more than 400,000 Wisconsinites gave excellent testimony about SB 502. Meg Christianson told the Senate Health Committee
She reminded committee members current federal nondiscrimination rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) provide protections to ensure wellness programs do not unfairly discriminate on the basis of health factors. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that wellness program information is treated confidentially, separate from employer personnel files and only accessible to wellness program personnel.
More and more employees are spending time at work, Meg Christianson testified, making the workplace an ideal spot to engage people in wellness programs. Workers that participate in employer-based wellness programs have better on the job decision-making and time management skills and greater loyalty to their company.
Businesses that invest in workplace wellness programs can enjoy savings through lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism and decreased workers' compensation claims. A MetLife survey found that more than half, 57 percent, of larger employers, those with 500 or more employees, during 2008 were providing employees with a wellness program, up from 49 percent during 2006.
CNN.com reports, “Employee wellness programs just may be the cure for companies struggling to keep up with rapidly rising health care costs. According to the Kaiser Foundation's Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey, average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance for family coverage increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2008. The report, which surveyed randomly selected public and private firms, also found that more employers are turning to employee wellness programs -- more than half of the small and large firms that offered employee health benefits also offered some form of a wellness program.”
I wholeheartedly support SB 502. Wisconsin should provide the flexibility businesses need to provide wellness programs that can lead to healthier lifestyles, longer lives, and reduced health care costs.
ABB, Inc. is one of the
ABB provides power and automation products, systems, solutions, and services.
Congratulations and best of luck to ABB, Inc.of
A long drought in the northern part of
The National Christmas Tree Association has published these 10 myths about Christmas trees.
Heading into cranberry season,
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports more berries are being exported overseas where the fruit is considered sexy.
Randy Papadellis, chief executive officer at Ocean Spray says the hot new product this year is Cranergy, an energy drink targeted to on-the-go soccer moms.
Growth in one of
The headline in the Racine Journal Times reads:
“Business people complain: State is a tough place for business”
That sounds all too familiar. Earlier this year, I was part of an effort by legislative Republicans to hear from businesspeople across the state about
What we heard was extremely troubling.
A similar listening session was held at a Racine County Business Summit. The Racine Journal Times reports, “Steven Jenkins of accounting firm Jenkins & Vojtisek, said he perceives from clients a less friendly business climate. ‘I have never had so many questions about, ‘How do I move my business, or my home, out of the state. ... I'm not going to retire or expand here,' he said.”
Our job creators, the business community, are speaking out loudly and clearly. It is time to start paying attention and then doing something about it.
It sure was great to see popular
However, it is realistic and prudent to question whether
The LA Times notes that in the case of “Public Enemies,” after the tax breaks were dished out that helped offset costs for, among other expenses, Depp’s hair stylist, makeup artist, and two chauffeurs, the net gain was debatable as to its worth.
The nonpartisan Tax Foundation in
The latest rankings are out, with the #1 state being the best state to do business and #50 the worst. The Tax Foundation reports:
“The top 10 states in the 2010 Index, from 1st to 10th, are
“The blame for
The new tax bracket hurts the wealthy that invest and create jobs.
The Tax Foundation writes:
“The ideal tax system, whether at the local, state or federal level, is simple, transparent, stable, neutral to business activity, and pro-growth. In such an ideal system, individuals and businesses would spend a minimum amount of resources to comply with the tax system, understand the true cost of the tax system, base their economic decisions solely on the merits of the transactions,
There are a number of studies concluding that in other countries, high corporate tax rates tend to depress wages. A new study by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in
States with high corporate income taxes see the wages of their workers depressed over time. States with lower corporate taxes enjoy an increase in worker productivity and wages.
The Tax Foundation writes the following in its report, “The Corporate Income Tax and Workers’ Wages: New Evidence from the 50 States” that reviewed state data from 1970 through 2007:
“A one percent drop in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent rise in real wages five years later. In dollar terms, that means wages rise $2.50 for every one dollar reduction in state-local corporate income taxes. The reverse is also true: A one percent hike in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent drop in real wages, or roughly a $2.50 loss in wages for each one-dollar rise
The Wisconsin Jobs Now Task Force that I serve on along with other Republican legislators has been holding roundtable discussions around the state, listening to the expertise and concerns of businesspeople about
As promised, the input from the roundtables has been incorporated into a final report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and stimulate our economy.
Among the report’s recommendations:
Reduce the Personal Income Tax
The Task Force recommends an overall reduction in individual and employer taxes to keep businesses here and attract new businesses and job-creation opportunities to
Repeal 11% Employer Tax Hike Passed in February
The Task Force recommends repealing the new combined-reporting tax and the new tax on custom software.
Freeze property taxes
The Task Force recommends maintaining a strong property tax freeze to reduce the ever-increasing burden placed on businesses looking to expand or trying to attract new employees.
Simplify and Streamline Tax Code
The Task Force recommends streamlining, consolidating, and cutting fees on employers.
Stop the increase in the Capital Gains Tax
The Task Force recommends opposing an increase in the capital gains tax that is in Governor Doyle’s proposed state budget and the budget recently adopted by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
Reduce the Tax Burden on Expansion/Retooling
Stop the “Brain Drain”
The Task Force recommends creating a business-recruiting team to bring high-tech and cutting-edge industries and startups to
Freeze on new regulations
The Task Force recommends a freeze on all new regulations until the economy improves.
Expediting the permitting process
The Task Force recommends guaranteeing agency permitting responses within a reasonable amount of time.
Help small businesses afford health insurance
The Task Force recommends allowing small businesses to pool together to achieve significant health insurance cost savings.
Guarantee reasonable caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases
The Task Force recommends establishing low long-term caps on non-economic damages.
Stop raids on Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund
The Task Force recommends prohibiting future government raids on the fund to attract and retain high quality health care providers.
Move Toward Patient-Centered Care
The Task Force recommends that
Don’t repeal the 1995 reforms in Joint-Several Liability statutes
The proposed changes could make an employer who is as little as 1% at fault, 100% liable for damages.
Don’t increase auto insurance costs
Proposed changes will increase auto insurance rates by more than 33% and bring Wisconsin rates from the 3rd lowest in the country to one of the highest, increasing costs on employers, and killing jobs.
Don’t increase the state minimum wage above the federal minimum wage
Don’t adopt proposed changes to Prevailing Wage Law
You can read the final report of the Wisconsin Jobs Now Task Force here.
I often blog about reports that rank the state of
Unfortunately, more often than not, the reports show
There is some good news to share. Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. (CWI) is a nonpartisan group of state agriculture, business, education and labor leaders. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WTA) has prepared for CWI an annual report charting
High school graduation rates increased during 2007 and remain above the
The number of doctoral degrees earned in science, engineering, computer sciences, and mathematics increased almost 16 percent during 2006.
Exports continue to be strong. As a percentage of output, exports rose more than 12 percentage points during the five years ending in 2007. Venture capital also showed signs of improvement.
During 2007, 8.2 percent of Wisconsinites were uninsured, compared to 15.3 percent nationally.
That is the good news. Like any report of this nature, there is bad news to report.
Per capita personal income still trails the nation, by a full six percent.
The number of private businesses in the state is down for the second straight year.
Energy costs continue to increase.
Violent crime is up. So why does Governor Doyle want to release more felons?
WISTAX has more details.
Another economic report card, another horrible ranking for the state of Wisconsin.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released its 2009 edition of “Rich states, poor states” that ranks all 50 states on their economic policies and performance, and also forecasts the states best equipped to rebound from the rough economy.
Wisconsin has the tenth worst economic performance ranking, dropping 11 spots from last year, and ranks #27 for its economic outlook (A property tax burden ranking of #42).
A press release from ALEC about the report says, “(It) shows how the federal bailout of the states may simply encourage out-of-control spending by states, which is up 124 percent over the last 10 years, without requiring them to make the tough decisions needed to bring about financial stability.”
Co-author of the report and highly acclaimed economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer said, “States cannot tax their way into prosperity.”
One of the report’s conclusions:
“As budget problems become more severe, states must utilize every cost-saving measure possible to avoid economically damaging tax hikes. Increasing taxes during the current downturn is a non-starter for states that wish to remain competitive. Instead, we hope states will use their current financial problems to put their fiscal houses in order and say no to profligate spending and irresponsible budget practices, which have caused many of the current difficulties.
As lawmakers return to session in 2009, many will be faced with a budget crisis. A handout from Washington, D.C., might seem to help in the short-term, but as many seem to overlook, dollars from Washington rarely come without costly strings attached. Furthermore, a federal bailout would do nothing to address the fundamental problem of a decade’s worth of state overspending. If anything good comes out of the budget problems in the states, maybe it will highlight the key to good budgeting: having the ability to say ‘no.’ Hopefully the next time we face an economic downturn, states will have policies in place to avoid another crisis of their own making.”
Thank you for appearing and testifying at the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force meeting Monday, March 23, 2009 at BioResearch Inc. in Brown Deer.
As I expected, you brought a wealth of expertise and I was extremely impressed with your contributions. The insight and personal experiences you shared will be valuable. Your input is expected to be incorporated into a report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and truly stimulate our economy.
Again, thank you for your heartfelt testimony at the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force meeting, and for all you do every day to make significant contributions to our economy and quality of life.
The third meeting of the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW TASK FORCE was held Monday in Eau Claire. About 50 businesspeople attended to discuss their concerns about Wisconsin’s business climate, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.
Here is my blog about last week’s task force meeting in Brown Deer and the Green Bay Press Gazette’s coverage of the first meeting in Howard.
The WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force holds a meeting in Brown Deer Monday, March 23, 2009 to hear critical testimony about how to revive Wisconsin’s economy. A successful meeting was held on March 10, 2009 in Howard, near Green Bay.
It is imperative Wisconsin businesspeople attend, share their expertise and voice their concerns about the ramifications the proposed state budget and the recently approved state stimulus/budget repair bill will have on Wisconsin’s struggling business climate and economy.
I invite business leaders from Senate District 28 that I represent to Monday’s Task Force meeting. Your input is invaluable in reviving our state economy and getting people back to work.
Republicans in the state Legislature have formed the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force that is touring the state holding listening sessions soliciting input from the business community. Senate District 28 businesspeople, your input will be incorporated into a report of recommendations to the Legislature to create jobs and truly stimulate our economy. The task force was developed by legislative Republicans after the Wisconsin budget adjustment bill was approved and signed into law in a span of 48 hours without adequate scrutiny from the public or news media. The bill made significant changes to the state’s business tax structure with the enactment of combined reporting, a streamlined sales tax, a sales tax on business software, and several other tax increases. Other business proposals in the Legislature include a minimum wage increase and changes in the wage lien law that were approved by Democrats controlling the state Senate and are currently in the State Assembly.
I strongly encourage you to share your much-needed expertise at the next task force meeting:
Monday, March 23, 2009
9275 N. 49th St.
Brown Deer, WI
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Please RSVP your attendance to me. If you wish to testify and are unable to attend, please send me your testimony and I will make sure it is included with live testimony.
The WISCONSIN JOBS NOW Task Force continues its series of meetings this Monday in Brown Deer. A successful meeting was held on March 10, 2009 in Howard, near Green Bay.
I have written several blogs during the past two years recognizing Wal-Mart efforts at developing affordable heath care.
Wal-Mart has opened clinics staffed by certified nurse practitioners that treat common family illnesses such as sore throat, ear infection, seasonal allergies and bronchitis. Cholesterol screenings, TB testing and flu vaccinations are also available. Other retailers like Target, CVS, and Walgreens have followed suit. Wal-Mart has also revolutionized access to prescription drugs, offering $4 medications.
During May 2008, Jim Jubak, senior markets editor for MSN Money went so far as to recommended in a column that Wal-Mart run the health care system.
Now comes word from the Washington Post that Wal-Mart’s successful trend continues. The newspaper reports, “Washington policymakers contemplating a fundamental overhaul of the nation's troubled health-care system may want to study the saga of Wal-Mart. Once vilified for its stingy health benefits, the world's largest company has become an unlikely leader in the effort to provide affordable care without bankrupting employers, their workers or taxpayers in the process.”
Only 5.5 percent of Wal-Mart employees are un-insured, compared to the national rate of 18 percent. Wal-Mart has implemented digital records, and has teamed up with the renowned Mayo Clinic.
The Wal-Mart experience, though not perfect, has had more than enough progress to have observers calling the huge retailer an “innovator” and “leader” in health care. The public sector would be wise to pay attention.
Read more in the Washington Post.
Read my previous blogs on this issue:
Wal-Mart to the rescue
Walgreens follows Wal-Mart’s lead
Wal-Mart to the rescue, again
Business writer says Wal-Mart equipped to run health care system
Near the end of 2008, I blogged about a significant agreement that would streamline the review of cranberry marsh expansions in Wisconsin. The cranberry industry is one of the largest in Wisconsin. I wrote that, “The 2008 Wisconsin cranberry crop will be above earlier projections and demand for the berries is strong worldwide.”
The predictions were true. The Wisconsin State Journal reports cranberry production during 2008 was the highest on record. That is excellent news for our state!
John Fund of the Wall Street wrote during August 2007 that increasing regulations and licensing hinders entrepreneurs from opening new businesses and kills jobs. Wisconsin has a horrible ranking when it comes to restricting jobs and it could get worse.
A provision contained in the 2007-09 state budget gives the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL) the authority to establish fees for the professions the DRL regulates. DRL Secretary Celia Jackson has informed the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee of the department’s new fees established for 2009-11. For the first time since 2001, fees are set to increase for over 100 DRL-regulated professions.
According to the Wheeler Report, “The base fee for all but a few new licenses will increase $22 to $75 from the current $53. Two-year renewals will range from $82 to a high of $170.”
The Joint Finance Committee has until Wednesday, February 18, 2009 to object to the fee increases or schedule a hearing to review the proposal.
The fee increases are business and job killers and should be rejected, especially during this time of layoffs and weakening economy.
I am thrilled to hear the wonderful news that United Heartland will build a new national headquarters in New Berlin and create 300 new jobs.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has details.
Congratulations to United Heartland and New Berlin!
The family ritual of climbing into the car, driving to a tree farm and cutting down a fresh Christmas tree is very good news for Wisconsin’s economy. That’s because the Christmas tree industry is big business in our state. Fresh Christmas trees generate over $50 million to the state economy every year according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.
Wisconsin ranks as the fifth largest Christmas tree producer in the country. About 1.8 million trees are sold every year. Wisconsin is also the third largest state nationally for acreage of Christmas trees grown.
Finding a Christmas tree farm to purchase a fresh tree is easy. There are 1,387 Christmas tree farms in the state selling any number of varieties of trees.
University of Wisconsin-Extension Racine County horticulture educator Patti Nagai says each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people. For every tree chopped down, two or three more are planted. The trees are recyclable and when chipped or shredded make great mulch. So Christmas trees are good for the environment.
For more information, check out the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Growers Association.