Wisconsin’s top business lobbying group is urging lawmakers to drop the state’s highest personal income tax rate, raise gas taxes, and pass a right-to-work bill.
Kurt Bauer, CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce, outlined the group’s recommendations in a letter posted on its web site Monday. In it, Bauer said the state has made a remarkable transformation from what he calls an “anti-business to a pro-business state” under Republican leadership. However, he says more needs to be done to attract new companies and jobs.
Among the steps Bauer called for is an elimination of the top income tax bracket, which he argues would offer relief to many small businesses, and could finally push Wisconsin off the list of the nation’s 10 highest-taxed states. Former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle added a 7.6-percent income tax bracket in the last decade, to help eliminate budget deficits at the time.
Frac sand mining is another concerns touched on in the letter, with Bauer arguing that “radical environmentalists who have so far failed to stop fracking have now targeted frac sand mining.” The sand, used in drilling for shale oil, has been a target of frequent controversy in the state with many communities passing ordinances to limit the development of new mine. Bauer said WMC will “dvance legislation to promote statewide regulatory certainty and uniformity.”
Bauer also said the simplest way to pay for new and improved highways is a modest gas tax increase, plus a hike in the vehicle registration fees. He said, “bonding isn’t a long-term solution.”
On right-to-work, Bauer said it would help economic development as well as give workers more freedom. Lawmakers expect to at least debate right-to-work in the next legislative session, even though Governor Scott Walker has so far indicated the measure is not a priority for him.
Bauer also said Wisconsin would change its family medical leave law so it’s the same as the federal version and said the state should look for ways to reduce worker’s compensation costs.