The good-government Public Policy Forum the other day asked the heads of some of Milwaukee's big, successful companies how to make the city competitive. The answers were surprising only in that they were no surprise. It's about money.
Taxes, of course: These were CEOs, so within minutes someone mentioned that ranking about 40th or so on tax climate doesn't help. Debate the criteria all you want, but the people deciding where the plant goes think they're valid.
Too bad for McIlheran that this was already debunked---three years ago. Paul Soglin, in a post from last August, refers to Exposing the Wisconsin Tax Hell Hoax (pdf) written by Jack Norman. In his post, Mr. Soglin highlights a few points:
As property taxes on manufacturers and agricultural lands dropped, home owners picked up the burden. When the business property next door had its taxes lowered a few thousand dollars, the difference was picked up by the residential property owners.
As the Republicans led the charge to lower corporate income taxes, personal income taxes had to pick up the burden. That is why Forward Wisconsin boasts: "Wisconsin ranks fourth lowest in the nation in business taxes as a percent of all state and local taxes."
All of this shifting means that while home owners used to pay 50% of all property taxes in Wisconsin, they now pay 70%.
Of course, some might say that McIlheran hates taxes. Whallah! has already shown that to be not true. But he doesn't want your money to go to taxes, but he doesn't want you to keep it either. He wants you to just give it all to the nice fat cat CEO's.