Republicans in the state Assembly want a focus on jobs during the fall legislative session. “About six months ago, Assembly Republicans and Senate Republicans decided to go and ask the people of Wisconsin what we could do to help job creation,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald. Members of the Wisconsin Jobs Now Task Force traveled the state. “Time and time again,” said Fitzgerald, task force members heard that taxes and regulations are hampering the state’s ability to compete economically and attract and retain jobs. Recommendations made to the task force have been incorporated in a number of legislative proposals.
State Representative Mary Williams of Medford said the state Jobs Tax Credit enacted as part of the budget, needs to start immediately. It’s currently set to go into effect in 2010, with credits to businesses in 2012. “The problem with that is, I have had the two highest unemployment counties in the state,” said Williams. “We need the jobs now. Providing funding two years from now doesn’t help the people in business now.” Williams said she’ll propose a bill to push up the start date for the tax credit.
Representative Kitty Rhoades said Assembly Republicans would require the Dept. of Commerce to report to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance detailing its business retention methods, a plan identifying businesses seeking to expand or relocate, and to develop a Rapid Response Team for relocation or expansion. “Sometimes, when you need help from the state, you need it quick,” said Rhoades, noting that her proposal was in every version of the state budget until Governor Jim Doyle vetoed it.
Representative Rich Zipperer of Pewaukee said Assembly Republicans would restore legislative accountability, by banning the Department of Revenue’s ability to unilaterally impose new taxes, such as the combined reporting for corporate taxes, which he said has already cost the state jobs. “Places like Harley Davidson . . . were directly hit by this tax, and some folks were laid off as the result of it,” Zipperer said.
Representative Jeff Stone said Wisconsin needs allow small businesses to claim a bigger deduction for new equipment purchases, in line with what the federal government allows. “We are now at a competitive disadvantage with other states,” said Stone. “We currently only allow $25,000 of that type of expense, this would raise that to $50,000.”
A provision in the state budget, providing employers and shareholders with incentives to invest in state businesses, needs to go into effect now, according to Representative Pat Strachota of West Bend. “Unfortunately, the start date was pushed out to 2011,” said Strachota. “We need every tool we can get right now, to jump start our economy.”
Representative Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa said the GOP will push to allow Wisconsin employers to purchase health insurance plans from out-of-state, something they can’t do now. Other proposals from the GOP will include a 2011 sunset on the controversial phone line tax, the increase in capitol gains taxes and combined reporting for corporate taxes.
“Obviously, I think we need to look at setting priorities for the state of Wisconsin,” said Fitzgerald. “We have to become more competitive, the way other states are.”