Legislature Continues Jobs Focus
Through distractions on a wide range of other legislative issues this week, the legislature continued to find ways to help improve our state’s business climate.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed several special session bills with the intent of helping create jobs, two on 33-0 votes. Those included:
- WHEDA loan guarantee expansion: One of the tools available to the state to promote business growth is loan guarantees by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). The Senate voted 33-0 to expand the number of businesses eligible for the loans by:
- More than doubling the maximum loan guarantee, from $200,000 to $500,000;
- Increasing the size of the business eligible from 50 employees to 250 employees; and expanding the program statewide.
Film Tax Credit: The Assembly this week will take up a bill the Senate voted 33-0 last week to promote Wisconsin’s film industry and attract new film productions to the state (Special Session Senate Bill 3), by reducing the application fee for state tax credits to a $500 flat application, down from 2% of production expenditures or $5,000.
The legislature is also working to pass reforms aimed at one of the most significant factors on a business’ bottom line: frivolous lawsuits.
NFIB identified the high cost of liability insurance as “the No. 2 problem for small-business owners, right after the price of health insurance.”
In a 2010 survey, 67% of respondents said that the litigation environment in a state is likely to impact important business decisions, including where to locate.
NFIB also reports that a recent Harris poll showed that 61% of small businesses said that litigation concerns made their product or service more expensive, and 73% said their business suffered because litigation is very costly and time-consuming.
The state also held the line on government spending by announcing that there would be no automatic raises for state employees in the next two years. Union bosses responded by calling it another attack on workers, but this budgetary frugality reflects the sacrifices that state citizens have been enduring for years. The compensation plan includes no massive layoffs or furloughs, and creates a new system of merit pay for the best and brightest.