Mint julep, anyone?
Have you ever thought of moving to Kentucky? Me, neither. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I love it here. Most people I know love it here, too (as long as you don’t ask them about their last tax bill). In July, Forbes reported that Wisconsin has the 8th-highest quality of life in the nation. Kentucky came in 34th.
You know who has thought about you moving to Kentucky? Economic development groups in Kentucky have. They haven’t only thought about it, they are formally inviting us to move down there.
Maybe not you, specifically, but businesses in our state are being courted by the Greater Paducah Economic Development Council. The GPEDC recently sent a letter to a business owner in Kenosha that began:
“Paducah/McCracken County, KY wants your business!!! Sometimes it seems that lawmakers in a state are insensitive to the competition and pressures a business faces every day. For example, the new health care plan proposed by Governor Doyle and approved by the Wisconsin Senate places an unfair and uncompetitive burden on most businesses in Wisconsin. If signed into law, employees and businesses in Wisconsin will be saddled with a combined state and federal payroll tax of 29.8 percent.”
The letter goes on to tout Kentucky’s economic development benefits, including corporate tax breaks, state-sponsored employee training programs, sales tax breaks, and incentive packages for relocating businesses.
So, on the one hand, they are offering every economic incentive in the book for Wisconsin companies to relocate to Kentucky; what are we offering on the other hand? Huge tax increases, an expensive government-run health care system and a cumbersome state regulatory scheme don’t sound all that attractive in comparison.
If you think that Paducah County is the only place in the Midwest using Healthy Wisconsin against us when trying to poach our businesses, I have some oceanfront property in Vilas County I would like to sell you.
Every state in our region is experiencing the same problems Wisconsin is when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses. Most decided to use the legislative process to create incentive programs that help out businesses facing tough times or attract businesses that are looking for a new base of operations.
Wisconsin’s Democrats thought about Wisconsin’s economy and concluded that massive tax increases, expensive government-run health care and increased red tape are what business owners and entrepreneurs are looking for when deciding where to locate their company.
Republicans in the legislature have been saying that Healthy Wisconsin, the Senate Democratic government-run health care plan that requires the largest state tax increase in the history of the United States to fund, is a job killer and the Paducah letter is the proof that we were right. Economic development groups would not waste time mailing letters like this one to businesses in other states if they did not think they would be successful in convincing those businesses to move out of Wisconsin.
If you owned a business and the elected officials in your state seemed determined to put you out of business, what would you do? Kentucky might start to look pretty good.
Rather than watch as the jobs and businesses leave Wisconsin in droves, we need to convince the Senate Democrats and Governor Doyle that policies like Healthy Wisconsin that hurt businesses hurt everyone in Wisconsin. If we can’t get them to see the damage they are doing, we all might be rooting for the Kentucky Wildcats instead of the Badgers in the near future.