Gov. Jim Doyle’s decision not to seek a third term has made Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race one of the most competitive in the country. With the state at a political crossroads after two terms of irresponsible government, Wisconsin will be in the national spotlight. Everyone is well aware of the dire economic condition plaguing the United States; with an unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent, Wisconsin is no exception. However, our problem is not merely an unfortunate economic recession, nor is it Doyle’s inability to secure specific fiscal victories. Rather, the problem is the Doyle administration’s utter lack of initiative in proposing any sort of solution whatsoever. While Doyle rode the Democrats’ “wave of victory” in 2006, he disregarded the people of Wisconsin and the economic degradation of the state.
Forbes magazine recently calculated which states have the best and worse climates for business growth. Wisconsin, with Doyle at the helm, has managed to slip to number 43. Wages here are 85 percent of the national average, putting us in the same position as Alabama. Our unemployment rate continues to rise with companies like Harley-Davidson laying off hundreds of workers this past summer. Finally, large companies such as Mercury Marine and General Motors continue to leave — or threaten to leave — the state for places like Oklahoma and Michigan, which offer on average a 5.5 percent tax on corporate incomes versus Wisconsin’s high 8 percent tax.
While Doyle engages in disagreements with members of his own party on the Congressional Finance Committee, a $6.6 billion budget deficit plagues Wisconsin. Unable to come up with clear solutions for Wisconsin and unify his own party, residents have grown tired of his indecisiveness. These political flaws are reflected in his approval rating, which has dropped below 40 percent in recent months. Wisconsin has had enough. Doyle himself even admitted to these liabilities during his recent decision not to run in 2010, recognizing that running would involve vast difficulties for his campaign.
Although the UW-Madison College Republicans cannot formally endorse a candidate without the Republican Party of Wisconsin doing so first, three qualified individuals have emerged for the GOP, each looking to capitalize on Doyle’s lame duck status and take back a state battered by poor Democratic leadership.
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, businessman and former Rep. Mark Neumann and businessman Mark Todd of Appleton have all announced their candidacies for the Sept. 10, 2010 primary and all have high hopes of trying to capture disgruntled citizens who were concerned with Doyle’s liberal policies. Properly, each has focused his attention on the health of the state’s economy — including taxes, jobs and government spending — as their No. 1 issue.
To combat the poor economic condition in Wisconsin, each candidate has a similar agenda of lowering the state’s corporate income tax. Walker believes tax cuts are the fastest way to encourage economic and job growth and specifically notes that small businesses, the backbone of the state, will be able to invest their monies into job growth under his governorship. Todd echoes this sentiment, stating that “overburdensome taxes” need to be eliminated from Wisconsin’s budget. A Neumann administration would also focus on reducing the tax rate in Wisconsin, while ensuring that Wisconsin produces and retains an educated workforce and eliminates costly environmental regulations on businesses without harming Mother Nature at the same time.
Doyle’s recent spending spree means more taxes on citizens. Democrats are proposing to spend $3.64 billion more in the new state budget, a 6.2 percent increase in spending over the base budget for a 2009-11 total of $62.24 billion. Although the Left has bragged that the budget contains “the deepest spending cuts in Wisconsin history,” we would rather refer to the numbers. If you own a home, drive a vehicle, own any kind of telephone (land line or cell), pay a utility bill, dispose of garbage, purchase a handgun, land in a hospital or surgical center, stay in a nursing home or use any kind of tobacco product — we could go on all day — Doyle and any future Democratically controlled administration will tax you for it. Property taxes alone are expected to increase from 3.3 to 4.1 percent amid falling home values, which means big problems for already financially hurting families.
Walker proposes deep tax cuts on citizens, the product of increased scrutiny and justification for each dollar spent. Todd also supports tax cuts and even favors eliminating taxes for those over 65 years of age. Neumann believes that lowering taxes and controlling spending will keep, create and add badly needed jobs in the state. Through fiscally conservative policies, each candidate believes that a thriving economy must start with lower taxes to generate more spending, rather than (per the Doyle line) a “balanced budget” that contains more taxes to offset even larger government expenditures.
Using the recent trend of advocating “change” in government, the UW College Republicans support a complete change of administration at the state Capitol. Without a Democratic incumbent in the 2010 race, the race is wide-open for qualified Republican candidates to inherit and remedy Doyle’s tradition of fiscal irresponsibility and lack of accountability. Republicans will bring transparency and responsible spending back to the state while improving the quality of governance in Wisconsin.
Crystal Lee and Stephen Duerst ([email protected]) are chair and public relations officer, respectively, of the UW-Madison College Republicans.