MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin state chamber of commerce waded into the ongoing debate in the governor’s race over outsourcing Wednesday, with a statement from its president trying to shift the focus onto the cost of production.
The debate over outsourcing has been the focus of the governor’s race the past two weeks, with Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke trading barbs both in television ads and public comments.
Burke criticized Walker’s economic development agency for giving state tax breaks to companies that moved jobs overseas. Walker responded with a pair of television ads accusing Burke of being a hypocrite, given that her family business Trek Bicycle Corp. also got state money and moved manufacturing overseas.
Both candidates now say they support ending state tax incentives for companies that outsource jobs overseas.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce president Kurt Bauer said in his statement that the real issue is which candidate supports reducing the costs of production in the state. The statement doesn’t name either candidate, but WMC – the state’s largest business lobbying group – has been a strong Walker supporter.
“If the goal is to reduce the number of outsourced Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, then lower the costs of production for Wisconsin manufacturers, including taxes, regulations, energy, health care and frivolous lawsuits,” Bauer said.
Walker, in his first term, signed a manufacturing tax credit into law as part of roughly $2 billion in tax cuts that included lowering the personal income tax and property taxes. He also pushed through a number of other regulation and lawsuit reforms that were backed by WMC.
Bauer specifically cites the manufacturer’s tax credit in his statement as something that helped reduce production costs and “protects literally thousands of Wisconsin factory and farm jobs.” The law nearly eliminates income taxes on profits from manufacturing and farming production in the state.
Walker has promised more tax cuts if re-elected. Burke has criticized Walker’s record on taxes, saying they benefited corporations and the rich over the working middle class, a group she said would be her focus.
Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said in a written statement that the governor’s tax cuts made Wisconsin a better state for business. Burke’s spokesman Joe Zepecki did not immediately respond to a request for comment.