The following op-ed originally appeared in the La Crosse Tribune. MacIver Institute President Brett Healy presents a pro-growth agenda for Gov. Tony Evers. If Gov. Evers wants to continue Wisconsin’s remarkable economic growth and keep our great state moving forward, we hope he will consider these ideas.
As @GovEvers prepares for the important task of evaluating the State of the State, @MacIverWisc presents him with a growth agenda. Governor, good luck, and let's keep moving Wisconsin forward! #WISOTS #wiright #wipolitics Click To Tweet
January 22, 2019
By Brett Healy
Congratulations, Gov. Evers, on your victory. We would like to wish you the best of luck as you begin your time in charge of our beloved state.
We at the MacIver Institute have some suggestions on how you can be successful right out of the box, and we hope you will consider these ideas in the days ahead.
We believe, in general, you should pursue a pro-growth agenda that will sustain Wisconsin’s momentum and keep us heading in the right direction.
Taxes are still too high in Wisconsin. Despite $8 billion in recently passed tax relief, the Badger State ranks 32nd on the Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Climate Index. Worse, we still rank a disappointing 39th in the nation for individual taxes.
If Wisconsin wants to remain competitive, if we want to keep our friends and neighbors from moving to more tax-friendly states, and if we want to attract new businesses and all the family-supporting jobs that come with those new businesses, we need to continue our move to a flatter and more fair tax structure.
Wisconsin’s tax code forces even the lowest-income earners to pay the fourth highest tax rate of any state with a progressive income tax. A 3 percent flat tax would lower the tax rate for the working poor and stop punishing success.
A systematic and meaningful tax overhaul would also be an invaluable opportunity to examine what the fundamental role of government should be, determine the critical services that our citizens deserve and reduce government spending on all unnecessary and extraneous programs. We can save Wisconsin taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if we exercise fiscal prudence. If government can exercise some restraint and discipline, our citizens will have more money in their checkbooks and they will then have the ability to make their lives better on their own.
Gov. Evers, let’s make the 2019-2021 budget about the taxpayer, not bureaucrats or the special interests.
We agree with you that the escalating cost of health care in the Affordable Care Act era is a big concern going forward. One way to increase access to affordable care and foster innovation is to protect the nascent direct primary care movement in our state. New regulations would quickly kill direct primary care before it has an opportunity to re-establish the doctor-patient relationship and solve our health-care woes.
Direct primary care also holds promise for taxpayers. Lawmakers are attempting to introduce direct primary care into the state’s vast and expensive Medical Assistance programs. A similar reform in Michigan is projected to save taxpayers $3.4 billion—with a B—if fully implemented there.
Price transparency is also critical to keeping health-care costs in check. We hope you will work to give patients all of the information they need in real-time to make smart health-care decisions. If health-care consumers are treated with respect and allowed access to legitimate pricing information, they will make decisions on their own that will drive down the cost of health care.
In your inaugural speech, you said you want to ensure “every kid in our state has access to a quality education — no matter what their zip code.” We could not agree more.
We all know that the education system here in Wisconsin is facing some long-term challenges and immediate emergencies. We have too many kids stuck in a failing school, our achievement gap remains a crisis and the amount of money our parents spend on remedial classes in college so their kids can learn what they should have been taught in high school is embarrassing.
Instead of turning to a tired and predictable solution that gives more power to bureaucrats, we should empower parents to fix all of this. Let’s move to a Super Education Savings Account system where parents are in charge of their kids’ education funding and can “bank” any unused K-12 funding for their child’s college or technical school education. You could kill two birds with one stone — allow parents to make the K-12 system more accountable and give parents a real opportunity to save money for college.
We also believe, governor, that you should stay the course on welfare reform. With the state’s economy roaring, a rock-bottom unemployment rate, and more job openings than workers, it is more important than ever to help our fellow citizens to move their way off taxpayer assistance and find meaningful, family-supporting work. The jobs are out there, governor. Repealing training and job-search requirements will prevent welfare recipients from taking that critical but scary first step toward self-reliance and freedom.
Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, governor. Let’s work together to keep our state moving forward. Good luck.
Read the original op-ed here.