Not enough

According to IBWisconsin blogger David Blaska:

Wisconsin politicos in both parties will be on red alert this Thursday when January’s job numbers for Wisconsin are announced. [Gov. Scott] Walker and the Republicans pray they’ll be big numbers and, more importantly, black numbers. Democrats and employee unions will be secretly hoping they’ll be red numbers. …

Here’s my prediction: Thursday will bump Wisconsin UP another 18,000 jobs. Just an intuition. That’s one press release. If not, the second press release asks where is The Kathleen’s job-creation plan? Higher taxes across the board?

Walker could rightly blame the continuous political turmoil. You’re a small- to medium-sized employer in Illinois thinking about expanding in Wisconsin. Who is going to be governor in six months: Scott Walker or Michael Moore?

This is being posted before, I think, the job numbers are released. It was written before the job numbers are released.

Whatever the January job numbers are, they won’t be enough. Not because of Walker’s 250,000 job numbers pledge. And not because of the previous months’ job numbers, although the previous months’ job numbers (some of which were inaccurate as originally reported) are symptomatic.

The reason the job numbers won’t be enough is because the Legislature has not done nearly enough to promote business, which leads to private-sector jobs, the 34.9 percent of the population who pay for 100 percent of what government does.

The most recent example of the Legislature’s failures on the job front is the failure to pass the mining bill, which would have led Gogebic Taconite to invest $1.5 billion in a new taconite mine, which would have created 800 union jobs and an estimated thousands of other jobs. Badger Blogger assesses the blame:

Not only are Dale Schultz, and Sen. Bob Jauch, the representative for the district that would have directly benefited from the mine, but think of all of the Southeastern Wisconsin democratic senators that have constituents that work for the two largest mining equipment manufacturers in the world, Joy Global (P&H) and the former Bucyrus, now owned by Caterpillar. Their workers would have benefited greatly from a new Wisconsin mine. So a large part of the blame for this has to fall on people like Tim Carpenter, Lena Taylor & Chris Larson, who voted against their unionized constituents that work for these and many other companies. This vote proves that they are more concerned about delivering Scott Walker some sort of perceived loss, than they are about thousands of great paying jobs for Wisconsinites.

The failure of the mining bill demonstrates the mindset that appears to be cemented among our elected officials — that no business that is not willing to jump through every government-created hoop is worthy of Wisconsin. (Given the fact that unions were supporting the mining bill, I guess that shows where Democrats are on the question of jobs.) I have yet to hear the ridiculous claim (currently being made by Obama misadministration officials) that overregulation creates jobs, but I assume that’s on the news release list from the Kathleen Falk campaign.

Walker’s recall campaign commercials tout the government employee collective bargaining reforms that, he says, saved government jobs. (As if that’s a good thing.) Govzilla the regulatory monster will not be defanged until the government employee workforce is cut substantially — just to use a nice round number, let’s say 10,000 jobs, about one-fourth of the state workforce — in addition to changing much of state law. (For instance, open shop legislation.)

How can I assert that the way to create jobs is to cut government jobs? The answer should be obvious. The only jobs that count are private-sector jobs. Let me repeat and emphasize: The only jobs that count are private-sector jobs. Private-sector jobs are the only jobs that inject money into the economy without taking money out of the economy. If all jobs were created equal, then the government could solve the unemployment problem by simply hiring every unemployed person and assign half to digging holes and the other half to filling in the holes.

When government actually costs less, instead of just limiting the increases as the Walker administration has done, businesses will have more money to pay employees, invest in their business, or pay dividends to their owners. Any of those is a better use of business profits than paying taxes.

The only thing that’s been done to improve the business climate is the dumping of the Department of Commerce in favor of the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. But the jury is out on whether WEDC is doing its job of promoting the state as a place to do business less than a year into its existence. Improving the state’s finances is a necessary but insufficient step by itself.

That’s because one big negative remains our tax climate. The Tax Foundation reported that Wisconsin ranked fourth in business taxes for new businesses, but 35th for established businesses. Fourth is more like it, but the fact that Wisconsin’s startup and incorporation numbers remain bad, apparently that approach hasn’t been working for a long time. And there are many more business that are subject to the 35th-place ranking than the fourth-place ranking. The Tax Foundation also ranks Wisconsin 43rd in its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index, which includes corporate taxes, personal income taxes (which affect not just executive salaries, but subchapter-S corporations), sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and property taxes. Since we know that businesses make location and expansion decisions based on how much they’ll pay in taxes, until Wisconsin ranks closer to the top than eighth from the bottom, we are unlikely to see improvements in the state’s economy.

The state also needs to be honest for a change and admit two other things. First, we are not getting anywhere close to our money’s worth from the billions of dollars the state spends on education. Despite taxpayers’ paying for 13 four-year UW schools, 13 UW two-year schools, 16 technical colleges and more than 400 K–12 school districts, our state’s economy has been lagging for decades. (To be specific, per capita personal income growth has trailed the national average since I was in middle school.)

Second, it should be obvious that the state’s quality of life (which is because of the state’s geography and people and has nothing to do with government) is of nearly no value in attracting business to come to this state. If our quality of life was as good as Wisconsinites claim, the resulting inmigration of population and resulting business and job creation to serve all those residents would place Wisconsin at the top of all those business climate comparisons, instead of sometimes in the middle and more often toward the bottom.

Blaska asked the question of what Falk (and by extension any other Democrat) will come up with for their jobs plan. One can assume whatever Democrats come up with will parrot the approach of Gov. James Doyle, which was to promote exports and throw tax-break goodies only at favored businesses (for instance, green companies), and to hell with everyone else. Add up all of Walker’s job numbers since he took office in January 2011 (and if Blaska is right, they’ll be on the plus side), and they will dwarf Doyle’s 2009, when the state lost 90,000 jobs.

If the Legislature was doing its job, it would pay attention to the state’s business climate rankings, which have gone from horrible under Doyle to between horrible and mediocre under Walker, and do something about them. Now.

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