More tax breaks for business have been approved by the state legislature, as part of the special session on jobs and the economy called by Governor Scott Wallker. Freshman Republican state Senator Van Wanngarrd of Racine co-authored a bill (AB 3) which provides a two year income and franchise tax credit for businesses that move to Wisconsin. “This is just a piece of the puzzle,” said Van Wanngarrd. “If there is a silver bullet that we had that would cure this, we’d all stand up, we’d all vote for it. Well this is part of the package that we need to put through, to be able to create a puzzle, that’s going to create a complete puzzle.”
A second bill (AB 4), increasing by $25 million the amount of money in an economic development tax credit program, left Madison Democrat Fred Risser puzzled. “My question is, what kind of a puzzle are we putting together? This is talking about next biennium. We need jobs now, we need some help now,” said Risser. Democrats noted that money won’t be available immediately, and an amendment they offered which would have done that was defeated.
Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah said the bills are a start in turning around the state’s economy. “We don’t expect 50,000 new jobs in five minutes. But I can tell you this: as we move forward in the next two years, we will right this ship. We will change the landscape of Wisconsin,” Ellis said. “This special session is providing the dessert to the business community, and the governor and the majority party are going to put schools on a diet,” in the coming budget, warned Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch. State Senator Lena Taylor, a Milwaukee Democrat, charged the special session has broken Governor Walker’s “brown bag” rule of don’t spend what you don’t have. “We’re in a special session that’s created zero jobs,” said Taylor. “Twenty-two days in, $142 million that we’ve added to the structural deficit. This is priceless.”