Patti Wenzel
Neumann’s message

Cut taxes to encourage savings and capital investment

By - Apr 22nd, 2010 04:00 am
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Mark Neumann proudly uses solar power in his construction business. Photo from Mark Neumann for Governor

Mark Neumann is a small businessman, and if you don’t know that you will after listening to him stump for governor. Neumann appeared at a Newsmakers Luncheon sponsored by the Milwaukee Press Club on Tuesday afternoon. He was energized and said the momentum in his race against Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker for the Republican gubernatorial nomination had turned in his favor.

He answered every question presented to him with a reminder that he is a businessman, and that he will run the state of Wisconsin as a business and make it friendlier for other businesses to locate here.

Neumann’s plan for 2010 is the same plan he had when he represented the First Congressional District in Washington back in 1994 — cut taxes and spending. Both will put more money in people’s hand, either to spend and stimulate the economy, to  invest in businesses or to save.

According to Neumann this plan has been tried and was successful during the four years he served in Congress.

“When I went to Washington we had a plan to balance the budget, and we did it.”

He demonstrated that success by referencing a yellowed chart that he produced in 1994. It showed how cutting the spending growth (at that time from 8 percent annually to 2 percent) while maintaining revenue growth (6 percent in 1994) produced surpluses and eliminated the deficit within five years.

“We know how to do it, we have done it and we can do it here,” Neumann said adding, “Wisconsin now spends $31 billion and takes in $29 billion. The difference is made up with budget gimmicks and federal stimulus funds,” which he explained with another chart. “I would cut spending to 1 percent less than the annual inflation rate.”

He didn’t want to overly optimistic about how much spending would grow under his watch, but he said increased business would increase tax collections, while having more people working would bring in more taxes. His plan for the inevitable surplus — tax reductions.

Those tax reductions would be across the board — income, sales and property. But that doesn’t mean Neumann would eliminate them all. He even suggested taxes as a way out of our transportation woes. In addition to reprioritizing spending to close the $30 million hole in the transportation fund, he would redirect sales taxes collected on transportation related items from the general fund to the designated fund.

An area of transportation Neumann does not support is high-speed rail. “The facts are that the federal government doesn’t have the money, and even without cost overruns it is going to cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin and it is unfair to the taxpayers of Burlington, Green Bay or Superior to pay for a rail system between Milwaukee and Madison that they’re not going to use.”

Neumann also pledged to end environmental mandates and expansion grants, saying if the government gets out of the way of business, it will do the right thing for the environment and job creation.

“There is an anti-business attitude that is prevalent in our society that sets off this thing that business will do the wrong thing when given the opportunity between right and wrong. I come from the other side of this.”

He explained that businesses look at the cost benefits to actions. He referred to S.C. Johnson’s installation of environmental improvements at its Racine headquarters. While the project cost $14 million, the savings to the company from the investment was $32 million.

“Of course they moved forward because it was good for them and ultimately the state of Wisconsin,” Neumann said.

Neumann has no plans of parking his gubernatorial aspirations.

Neumann acknowledged that the state GOP is not supportive of his gubernatorial run, even suggesting he drop out and run against Sen. Russ Feingold instead. But he said his eye is still on Madison.

“I don’t have a plan that will work for the federal government now. Washington is too messed up, they are so out of whack with the budget,” he said.

He promised to use Wisconsin to build a model of global competitiveness which can be replicated across the nation and then taken to D.C.

“This is not about a job promotion, this is about where I can do the most good.”

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