Tax cuts may not be the best way to appeal to businesses

Perhaps Gov. Scott Walker is using the wrong sales pitch in selling Wisconsin to out-of-state business leaders.

The emphasis has been on Republican efforts to lower taxes. But a recent spat with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton points out that wages are lower in Wisconsin.

First, the controversy. Dayton, a Democrat, has proposed signifi- cant state-collected tax increases to help solve a budget deficit and provide property tax relief for his citizens. Dayton's plan emphasizes higher taxes on the well-to-do.

Borrowing from the Bible, Dayton said, "To whom much has been given, of him shall much be required."

Walker, a Republican, tweeted about Wisconsin's tax-cutting and said his state "is open for business. Walker has been using the tax-cutting approach in his efforts to lure Illinois businesses to Wisconsin.,

Questioned by reporters, Dayton noted Minnesota has been 12th in job growth while Wisconsin ranks 42nd in job growth.

"I would suggest Gov. Walker didn't have much to brag about," Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio. "I would suggest Gov. Walker focus on his problems and we'll deal with bettering Minnesota."

The Forum of Fargo-Morehead noted that Wisconsin's unemployment rate is 20 percent higher than Minnesota's, while Minnesota per capita income is 12 percent higher than the Wisconsin average.

Lower per capita income seems to suggest wages are lower in Wisconsin. Salaries are a bigger issue than taxes to most business firms. Minnesota political leaders said South Dakota tried to lure Minnesota firms on the tax issue.

"Wisconsin may be 'open for business' but Minnesotans are staying here," said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, St. Paul, a leader of the Democratic-Farmer- Labor party.

Walker used the "open for business" after Illinois raised its income tax rate last year. But Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn retorted that Wisconsin still had a higher top income tax rate.

In addition to the wage issue, Wisconsin might be able to capitalize on the conservative approaches to violence identified with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, a Democrat, recently said citizens ought to take weapons training so they could help defend themselves. "Simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer the best option," Clarke said

When you suggest weapons training, it sure sounds like an invitation to consider purchasing your own guns. Clarke may merely have been trying to leverage more taxpayer money for additional deputies, but he has become a conservative folk hero

Guns also have popped up in the election for the state superintendent of public instruction, the person who leads elementary and secondary education in Wisconsin.

State Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Hartford, is the conservative candidate trying to unseat incumbent superintendent Tony Evers. Pridemore said he wouldn't stand in the way of school districts using armed volunteers to protect children. The idea of armed school aides was the NRA response after the Newtown school shooting.

Pridemore contends he isn't promoting the idea, but it sure sounds like he is counting on NRA support to win the April election. There are, of course, liability issues for school districts which may want to use armed volunteers.

Lower wages and an emphasis on self-protection might just attract conservative business leaders to Wisconsin more than just talking about taxes.


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