Friday, January 11, 2008

Wisconsin Tourism, Pat Strachota, and some funny numbers about Wisconsin's corporate tax "burden"

Hi folks,

One of our representatives, Pat Strachota, (the Smart One) was right to ask state tourism officials whether we needed to spend money re-branding Wisconsin. Tourism continues to be strong and seems to be improving. [My friends and relatives across America go ga-ga every Christmas when their cheese-baskets arrive. My friends from Chicago go into fits of ecstacy when I drag them down to Fleet to pick up salt for the water softener. They'll just stand there for hours looking at all the different kinds of manure scrapers.] People love Wisconsin. "You have friends in Wisconsin" and a nice Holstein, maybe a walleye, is all we need to bring in the tourists.

But, as usual, weird assumptions show up in Pat's comments which suggest she is operating under the influence of Chicago School Economics. Friends don't let their representatives vote drunk so, some coffee for Pat.

From GM Today: More than beer, brats and ‘Laverne & Shirley’

Tourism is a booming business in Wisconsin, bringing $12.83 billion to Wisconsin’s economy in 2006, an increase of more than a billion over the previous year, said state Rep. Pat Strachota (R-West Bend).

"Clearly, Wisconsin already has a great image that continues to attract visitors in record numbers, so what problem is creating a new brand going to solve?" she asked.

If a new image is sought to attract new and encourage existing businesses to expand, the state needs to focus on "reducing our over-burdensome business regulatory environment and high tax burden," she said.

The state also needs to focus on providing a highly skilled workforce, she added.

"These are the efforts that will pay off in an increase in high-paying jobs, which will in turn benefit our state’s economy," Strachota said.

Two things:

1) "reducing our over-burdensome business regulatory environment and high tax burden"??

Um, according to The Tax Foundation, not a social-justice-friendly group, Wisconsin ranks around 39th in the US in terms of it's Business Tax Climate (which cleverly includes, not merely business related taxes, but personal property taxes as well to bump up the numbers). When they limit their survey to corporate taxes, however, we're not even in the top-10.

Our anti-tax representatives like to complain that taxes are the problem when it comes to luring business to Wisconsin; but California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and 10 other states are, supposedly, even worse for business than Wisconsin.

This doesn't make any sense. California and New York seem to be doing pretty well, thank you, business-wise. California, if it were a country, would be the 7th richest country in the world -- and with a "worse" business climate than Wisconsin's?

Makes you wonder whether these rankings, and the kind of political decisions they've been used to justify, um, mean anything.

I'm leaning toward "no."

2) Taxes, therefore, are not the only factor in a state's economic well-being -- not by a long shot. What is demonstrably linked with economic prosperity is a well educated workforce. That's the reason businesses move to any state. (Consider the Gehl Corporation's recent decision with regard to West Bend.)

So, Pat -- keep up the good work shepherding our taxes, but quit spending our money on training people for those manufacturing jobs that at are hemorrhaging to overseas markets (now that your economic assumptions are being swabbed into the petri dish of globalization). We need to educate people for jobs in America, not in India or China.


ps. BTW, I'm still waiting to hear why you voted against giving rape victims emergency contraception.


non quixote said...

I agree that the problem is not finding the trained work force as much as it is finding meaningful, wage appropriate work for the workers that are already here.

A question I have is how soon after the sale of WI manufactured dairy processing equipment to China, (in the news this past week) will result in Chinese government subsidized, clones of this same equipment appearing on the world market competing directly against WI manufacturers?

Additionally, if our legislators don't act to sign on with the Great Lakes Compact we can market state tourism in the east with the slogan, "See it now, before it's gone."

Mpeterson said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

If my experience in China is any guide then I would guess that Chinese clones of such equipment should actually appear at least a full year before any such sale. GE Medical is already building MRI's over there. If they can assemble MRI's they can build milking equipment -- and even more alarming was discovering that the myth I'd learned, about an Asian tendency toward lactose intolerance, is not true. Our friends in Shanghai are now getting milk delivered to their apartments every morning. That's only started over the last few years. It's considered "cool" and "modern".

I'm startled to hear that they have not signed the Compact. Should I guess "real estate developers in western Waukesha?"