A Wisconsin legislator is trying to lure Minnesota businesses across the border as state legislators debate Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal that would raise taxes for many companies.
“I believe it is important to outline the options for businesses in Minnesota by letting them know that here in Wisconsin we value job creators,” said Wisconsin Rep. Erik Severson, R-Osceola. “Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, especially his tax on business-to-business transactions, will put a stress on businesses and reveal that Wisconsin is a better place to do business.”
In the letter, Severson highlighted the different approaches taken by Minnesota and Wisconsin to close recent budget deficits as the national economy sank. Wisconsin beat back a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes. Dayton is looking at raising more than $2.1 billion through tax hikes, with the money going to pay down a projected deficit and increase money to early childhood education and higher education.
Despite Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's refusal to raise taxes, the state's economy has lagged. Wisconsin's unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, more than a full percentage point higher than Minnesota. Last year, Wisconsin ranked 42nd for job-creation, trailing Midwestern states, including Minnesota.
"Indicators show that there is not the direct correlation between tax levels and job growth; in fact, Minnesota’s economy has fared far better than Wisconsin’s over the last couple of years," said Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci. "We would suggest Rep. Severson focus on the problems facing Wisconsin, and we will continue to focus on the challenges facing Minnesota."
Dayton has argued that his tax overhaul and investments in education will stabilize the state budget and create lasting improvement to the state’s workforce, a crucial component for successful businesses.
“I would encourage all business owners, small and large, to take a close look at Governor Dayton’s proposal and decide if the cost of doing business in Minnesota is too high,” Severson said. “If that’s the case, I am ready and willing to help businesses make the move across the river into Wisconsin.”
This is at least the second time officials from other states have reached out to Minnesota businesses or residents worried about higher taxes.
In the last week, a Florida congressman welcomed Minnesota residents trying to escape Dayton’s proposed “snowbird tax,” an income tax on part-time residents.
“Dear Governor Mark Dayton,” wrote Rep. Trey Radel, a Republican. “I'm writing today to thank you. As a Floridian, I am overjoyed to hear about your plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans, most especially the so-called ‘snowbirds.’ Your proposal gives us a chance to shine here in the Sunshine State.”