Democratic state lawmakers have unveiled a package of bills that they say would quickly create jobs. It includes a few ideas already endorsed by Governor Scott Walker.
So far the only bill Republicans have introduced this session aimed at job creation would rewrite Wisconsin's mining laws, with the goal of siting a massive open pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca says the legislature needs to do something else. "It's years before you're going to generate any jobs from a mining bill, even under the best of circumstances. Under this, you could put people back to work in weeks or at least months, not years."
The package, endorsed by Barca and other Democrats, includes two bills pulled directly from one of Governor Walker's special sessions on jobs. One would make an existing tax credit for angel investors fully refundable. Stevens Point Democratic Senator Julie Lassa says that makes those investments much more attractive to the nation's biggest investors, "such as nonprofit investment funds, such as pension funds and corporations."
Another would take tax credits Wisconsin already offers for expenses like equipment upgrades and let the state repackage them as up-front loans for businesses. Baraboo Assembly Democrat Fred Clark says it makes the money more accessible to small businesses. "Creating a tax credit sounds great, but it's like hanging a carrot on the end of a very long stick. And if a business owner can't afford to make the investment necessary to capture the benefit of that tax credit, it won't happen."
The package also includes requirements for state road and bridge projects to buy American. The bills backed by Governor Walker were rejected by Republican state lawmakers last session, with some saying they were too expensive.