Editor’s note: In the wake of tax increases approved by the Illinois legislature, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) authored an open letter to all business owners in the state of Illinois.
Dear Neighbors to our south:
You no doubt are aware of what your legislature did in the dark of night. I too, watched in bewilderment as the Illinois legislature voted to jack up your corporate taxes 46 percent. I can only imagine the sting you, your employees and your customers are feeling after hearing from Springfield that the state income tax rate was going to go up 66 percent.
I just wanted to take a moment of your time to let you know that Wisconsin is “Open For Business”. While your lawmakers are busy making it difficult for you to succeed, we in Wisconsin are working night and day to do the opposite. As your governor smiled, hugged and shook hands with democrats who voted to jack up your taxes, just north of the border, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called us into a Special Session on Jobs. Talk about a higher latitude and a better attitude.
We are about lowering taxes, not raising them. Let me outline some of the things we are working on at this very moment. In this special session we will pass a bill to give all businesses $1,000 for each new hire. New businesses that come to Wisconsin will get a tax break for two years. We will help you lower your skyrocketing health care costs by exempting HSAs from taxation. We are busy making the most significant tort reforms in state history to end nuisance lawsuits and to provide employers with the confidence and consistency needed to expand here. We are dramatically reforming our rules process to stop runaway bureaucrats from enacting job killing regulations. To ensure stability we’re considering enacting a law and constitutional amendment that would prevent future legislatures from raising taxes without a two-thirds super majority.
And that’s just in the first few weeks. In the near future we hope to expand our highly successful Enterprise Development Program. Our Jobs Tax Credit will be expanded to help employers grow and create jobs. Dairy and Livestock Investment credits will be extended to spark modernizations and growth in our prized agriculture industry. Regulatory reforms are on the way at the Department of Natural Resources to literally bulldoze the bureaucratic barriers that were put in place against job creation. Also on the way are cuts and reforms to state spending that will allow us to make across-the-board tax cuts for individuals and employers like you in the coming years.
Yes, Wisconsin truly is open for business. Years ago, we had a successful tourism slogan up here. “Escape to Wisconsin.” It was a simple message inviting you to come to Wisconsin and see what we had to offer. Judging by the amount of Illinois license plates at our tourism hotspots, a lot of you are taking us up on the offer. Today, the phrase “Escape to Wisconsin” has never been more appropriate. You can “Escape to Wisconsin” to avoid this tax hit and the others that will surely follow.
The trend is clear. While you cut spending in your personal lives and battled to keep your business sustainable, your representatives in the legislature decided to pass the buck onto you, your employees and your customers. Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin you will find a legislature that is willing to work with you and a workforce that is skilled and anxiously waiting. Members of the Illinois legislature warned what would happen. Senator Dan Duffy called the just approved tax hike the “nuclear bomb” of jobs bills. Representative Dan Reis warned to listen for the “giant sucking sound” of jobs heading out of the state. And Senator Kyle McCarter offered this business tip “invest in moving vans.”
Point those vans north. Escape to Wisconsin. We are open for business and ready for you.
Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly
P.S. You can stay a Bear fan, our tax breaks don’t discriminate.