Small Business Owners Must Be HeardWednesday, September 10, 2014 - Press Release
Last week marked the start of the new school year for my girls and students across Wisconsin. Already the homework has begun, and by this time, perhaps a few grades have even been issued.
Grades are good — they hold us to a standard, inspire us to excellence and make sure we follow through on our responsibilities.
And there’s no reason to limit grades to the classroom. At the annual Governor’s Small Business Summit, our team in state government reports to the taxpayers how we’re doing on the issues that are important to small businesses.
Two years ago we held our second summit here in La Crosse, and we listened to small business owners from across the state talk about their concerns, which were the same ones we had heard running for office: Taxes are too high. We can’t get access to capital. We can’t find the skilled workers we need. Regulation and red tape are killing us. We don’t want to lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build in one jackpot-justice lawsuit.
It’s important that we listen to small businesses, because from Day One, our administration has been focused relentlessly on addressing the concerns raised by the people who actually create the jobs. And it’s fair to ask, as we hold our fourth annual Small Business Summit today in Racine, how have we done? What grade do we get?
Well, we’ve cut taxes by $2 billion, including a manufacturing and agriculture tax credit that will virtually wipe out taxes on the twin engines of our state’s economy. We removed the cap on angel investor tax credits, increased the economic development zone tax credit and created a tax deduction for new hires.
To help increase the flow of capital to start-ups or businesses looking to expand, we created a $25 million venture capital fund. For smaller businesses, we’ve partnered with chambers of commerce to add capacity for their revolving loan funds. And Wisconsin’s new crowd-funding law is one of the first in the nation to allow friends, neighbors and customers to invest in local businesses.
We’re also committed to bridging the skills gap so when an employer creates new jobs, there are workers ready to seize the opportunity. We targeted $28 million to reduce class wait lists in high-demand fields at our technical colleges. And our Fast Forward grants give money directly to employers, technical colleges and apprentice programs to help train current or potential workers with new skills necessary for jobs that are available today.
Finally, we took on the entrenched interests that are regulating and suing employers into extinction. We repealed dozens of outdated and inefficient administrative rules, and updated scores more with better science and standards. We passed common-sense tort reform so employers who act in good faith won’t go under from a single lawsuit. And we tackled unemployment insurance, reducing the number of quit exceptions, doubling the number of required work searches, and fighting fraud and misuse.
Even with all that, we know there’s more that needs to be done so small businesses can thrive here. So we’re going to spend today talking with the people on the front lines of our economy — the small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving this recovery. We’re going to seek their wise counsel — what are the next ideas and policies that we can implement in Madison to make government work even better?
We won’t be satisfied until Wisconsin is the best place in the nation in which to do business, until every Wisconsinite who wants a job can find a job.