100th Legislative Session Begins; Five Bills Signed Into Law
Not long after the start of the 2011-12 legislative session, newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called the legislature into a special session to act on proposals that improve the jobs climate in the State.
The most recent studies suggest Wisconsinís business climate has suffered compared to other states. Forbes ranked Wisconsin as the 43rd worst state in the country in 2010, while in a study by the Tax Foundation for 2011, Wisconsin ranked 40th.
As part of the special session on jobs, five bills have been signed into law, including:
Special Session Senate Bill 1 enacts tort reforms intended to bring Wisconsinís legal climate in line with other states. Frivolous lawsuits waste resources, squander productivity, and often translate into lost jobs. The changes in SB 1 are intended to make Wisconsinís legal environment more reasonable and predictable.
Special Session Senate Bill 2 adopts federal law creating a tax deduction for contributions to a health savings account. A health savings account can be started in conjunction with a high deductible health insurance plan and helps pay for health care costs not covered by the plan. The Since 2004, federal law has allowed a portion of the contributions to be tax deductible. Wisconsin had been one of only four states to drag its feet on making HSAs more affordable.
Special Session Assembly Bills 3 & 4 create a two year tax holiday for new businesses relocating to Wisconsin and boost the economic development tax credit program which is used to encourage job creation, capital investment, employee training, and corporate headquarters retention or relocation.
Special Session Assembly Bill 7 creates a tax deduction for new hires. The amount of the deduction depends on the size of the business with companies who have less than $5 million in gross receipts able to claim a $4,000 deduction for each new worker, and employers with over $5 million in gross receipts able to claim $2,000 per new job.
If we want to see job creation and new business opportunities, we have to change course. The special session bills provide a multi-faceted response to help our ailing economy. We need appropriate and competitive incentives for job creation, along with taxes that are reasonable. The special session bills are only the beginning of changes that will make Wisconsin competitive again.
Commission on Waste, Fraud and Abuse
A commission has been initiated by Governor Walker to identify abuse of state resources, scrutinize spending by state agencies, and make recommendations to the Governor on efforts that make government smaller and more efficient.
On January 3rd, the Governor created the seven-member Waste, Fraud & Abuse Commission, which includes individuals with backgrounds in accounting, business, the public sector, and legislators.
The Governor is also seeking input from Wisconsin citizens. At the following webpage, citizens can share their observations on waste, fraud & abuse, as well as make suggestions that would help government run leaner and more efficiently.
Governor Walkerís Commission on Waste, Fraud & Abuse:
Another resource for Wisconsin citizens to report suspected fraud is the Legislative Audit Bureau Fraud, Waste, and Mismanagement Hotline. Created in 2007, this initiative allows the public, public employees, and contractors to report suspected fraud, waste, mismanagement, and other improper activities within the scope of state government.
When possible, the concerns reported to the hotline are investigated and resolved. Individuals making hotline reports may remain anonymous, but are encouraged to leave their names and contact information for follow-up purposes.
Legislative Audit Bureau Fraud, Waste, and Mismanagement Hotline: