Dear Governor Walker
submitted by Jerry Deschane
When you start making regulatory reform decisions, here’s my advice: Remember it’s not the mountain lions that give Wisconsin a bad name, it’s the mosquitoes. It may not be sexy, but getting rid of the one-thousand small red-tape irritants buzzing about job creators’ heads is more important to most Wisconsin businesspeople than solving the lofty issues of the day.
If you talk to job-creators in Wisconsin, they can rattle off horror story after horror story. They’ve all seen it, and they all see it too often. My favorite this week was a state inspector (names have been disguised to protect the cranky) telling the owner of a small Wisconsin health facility that the inspector wouldn’t be able to inspect their now-completed facility until … oh … about mid-January. What about the doctors, nurses and other specialists who could be gainfully-employed in that facility? What about the patients? Where are our priorities?
State workers are good people. They work hard and they love it here as much as private sector employees. Too often, however, they’re either trapped in or resigned to a system of rules that they didn’t invent, and that bears no relationship to the real world. State employees at the front lines can’t change the system. That takes an energized Governor and a talented group of cabinet secretaries.
Wisconsin income and property taxes are high. We know that. Wisconsin also has serious budget problems. Those are big issues, and the Governor and Legislature need to deal with them. However, that’s not what is at the top of the minds of most of the people who have to meet payrolls. I’ve spent almost 20 years talking to owners of small, medium and large businesses throughout Wisconsin. They don’t talk about the big issues like high taxes and budget deficits nearly as much as they do the little issues. Permits that take too long. Phone calls to inspectors who never call back. Snarky voice mail messages from regulators who blame their tardiness on the Governor and the legislature.
Those are the day-to-day irritants that give Wisconsin employers a full-time headache. Governor Walker; fix those and you will have gone a long way toward making Wisconsin a pest-free climate for entrepreneurs. Ignore them and you can slay all the mountain lions you want; Wisconsin will still be a swamp for job creation.
Jerry Deschane, CAE, is the Executive Vice President of Wisconsin Builders Association.
Sign up for the free IB Update — your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices and the names you need to know. Click here.