Share “Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials”

Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm •  Published: July 9, 2014
Advertisement

Wisconsin State Journal, July 6

Jobs debate needs more context

About those job numbers:

Gov. Scott Walker is still less than halfway to his goal of Wisconsin creating 250,000 private sector jobs during his four-year term.

Even with mostly good news about the economy last week, Wisconsin has added little more than 100,000 jobs over the last 3½ years. That ranks low nationally. And as of May, Wisconsin still hadn't regained the jobs it lost in the Great Recession.

Voters will decide soon how much Walker's failed jobs promise matters. The Republican governor faces likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke in the November election.

In the meantime, here's some context to Wisconsin's economy that's too often lost in the partisan debate:

Our state's fortunes largely rise and fall with the national economy. That means the impact state politicians can have is limited.

The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, in comparing gross domestic products over the last 15 years, found Wisconsin's economy didn't grow or slow as much as the nation's. Yet the differences between the ups and downs were subtle.

"A close examination of the past two recessions (2002 and 2008) shows that Wisconsin tends to contract earlier, recover earlier, and 'plateau' earlier than the rest of the country," according to a recent Alliance report.

The number-crunching nonprofit also found Wisconsin's performance was middling compared to the nation and other Midwestern states since 1998. Wisconsin's average annual per capita GDP over the most recent 15 years was 3.3 percent, which put it slightly below the nation's 3.5 percent. Iowa (4.4 percent) and Minnesota (3.6 percent) were higher. Indiana and Illinois (both 3.2 percent), Ohio (3.1 percent) and Michigan (2.2 percent) were lower.

Iowa's strong farm economy was helped by high corn prices and subsidized ethanol. Michigan was hurt by its struggling automotive sector. Wisconsin has a lot of farms, like Iowa. Yet like Michigan, it relies even more on manufacturing, which has lagged over time.

The best states for growth benefited from strong energy and health care sectors.

None of this should let Walker off the hook for his campaign promise. He is the governor, after all, with a Republican-run Legislature giving him sweeping say over state policy.

Previous governors have broken campaign promises. Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, for example, didn't come close to reducing the size of state government's workforce by more than 10,000 positions to reduce spending. Voters re-elected Doyle despite his failed pledge.

But the economy is more important to the public, especially now, polls suggest.

Like voters, we'll be analyzing the records of both major candidates this fall and comparing their strategies for success.

___

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, July 6

Property tax high, but shifting burden not easy

The property tax may be the most disliked of all, and in Wisconsin there's reason.

A recent study reported on by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance showed again that for many Wisconsinites, complaints about high property taxes are more than the usual grousing.

The WISTAX report cited a study comparing property taxes at a large city and a "rural" city in each state. The study was done by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Massachusetts and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence. The study of 2012 property taxes on a $150,000 home showed Milwaukee's property tax of $3,846 was nearly double the national median of $1,959. Milwaukee ranked fourth highest out of the 50 cities studied.

Rice Lake was used in the study as Wisconsin's "rural" city. The result was largely the same - Rice Lake's 2012 property tax of $3,229 on a $150,000 home was far higher than the national median of $1,808.

WISTAX reports several reasons for this. First, we have traditionally relied on the property tax to fund local government more than many other states. Secondly, we have a uniformity clause in our state constitution that requires residential property to be taxed at the same rate as commercial and manufacturing property.

Continue reading this story on the...