Doyle’s Report Card

Terrence Wall, a well-known developer for Dane County and beyond, writes from a business man’s perspective. Often, he writes about the intersection of politics and business for IB, and how pending mandates or legislation affects bottom line. However, his topic vary.

It’s a good thing Gov. Jim Doyle isn’t running for re-election, because his report card rates a solid F. Here’s why:

Total state government employment in Wisconsin during his tenure increased by almost 10,300 (peaking at 105,000 in 2008 before declining somewhat), while manufacturing employment dropped by 89,000 jobs during the same time. Likewise, the unemployment rate almost tripled from 2.3% to 8.9% (before declining to 7.9%).

Worst still is his record of raiding various independent funds that he had no right to take money from. He diverted $200 million from the Injured Patients Fund, which the Supreme Court just ruled illegal. Of course, Doyle knew this when he took the money, but he also knew that by the time the Supreme Court ruled against him, he wouldn’t be in office in order to have to come up with the funds to repay the debt. He left that to the new Governor to resolve.

Under Doyle, state government spending in Wisconsin increased by $5.7 billion, a whopping 31%! A more stunning comparison is that state government employment grew at double the rate of the private sector, adding 10,300 state employees at the peak in 2008. Talk about unsustainable …

And under his leadership, the leading economic indicators fell to 62.8 from 82.1, an eye-popping drop of almost 24%.

He also raided the transportation fund four times, for more than $1.3 billion, at the same time that our infrastructure is in such bad shape that he had to close bridges in Milwaukee to prevent an I-35 type disaster.

What’s scarier is the damage done to Wisconsin’s economy, which is coming over the next couple of years as a result of recent legislation. Most damaging is Doyle’s Combined Reporting law, which is a massive increase in taxes on corporations that have made a commitment to Wisconsin. (That’s a recipe for success — punish those who choose Wisconsin!) Corporations across the state that have both Wisconsin and out-of-state operations will be hit with millions in new taxes. Is it any wonder that Polaris moved jobs out, and Harley-Davidson gave relocation serious consideration?

Then there is the halving of the capital gains deduction, thereby doubling the capital gains tax. I suppose if your goal is to drive both corporations and family owned businesses out, combined (taxing) reporting and increasing the capital gains tax will do it.

What’s also worth noting are his attempts to further damage the Wisconsin economy that were stopped, starting with his underhanded attempts to terminate school vouchers in Milwaukee until the mothers of low-income kids came out kicking. Then there was the attempt to violate the state Constitution by trying to assess farmland owned by developers at higher rates than farmland owned by others. This bill, if passed, would have driven almost all but the strongest developers out of business and train-wrecked economic development.

And like Doyle, the City of Madison has done a lousy job of promoting economic development and job creation. I added it up: over $1 billion of new buildings and construction has been turned away by the city during this recession. That tax base would produce over $25 million in new taxes year after year for our schools and local government! That’s what local liberals don’t understand — new development equals more tax revenue to pay for all those social programs they want. New buildings equals new taxes and new jobs. It’s a win-win.

Voters too easily forget that who we elect does matter. One person can make a huge difference. Just look at the damage that Hoover (a Republican) and FDR (a Democrat) did in prolonging the Great Depression. Likewise, the damage done by Pelosi, Reid, Obama, and their ideology. Contrast the damage by those individuals with the economic growth and job creation resulting from the positive economic policies of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.

One person does matter. Be mindful of who you choose on November 2.

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