Republicans square off for chance at Sheridan

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010
— Four Republicans will square off in a Sept. 14 primary for the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Mike Sheridan in the 44th Assembly District.

All four recently answered questions from the Gazette.

-- What do you think is the most important issue in this race?
Brotheridge: “The single most important issue is jobs. I want to get Wisconsinites working again, and I focus on a combination of issues: freeze property taxes, repeal the 11 percent employer tax hike, simplify the state of Wisconsin tax code and increase the capital gains tax exemption,” he said.

“I will also work to lower business insurance costs, create shovel ready certifications and freeze new business regulations. I want Wisconsin to be more business friendly.”

Knilans: “The most important issue in this election is jobs. We have lost over 6,000 businesses in the state of Wisconsin in the last four years. Many businesses have either left the state to neighboring states that have a better tax environment or just closed their doors because taxes are too high and over burdensome regulations imposed by our state government,” he said.
Knipp: “I believe leadership and experience are the key ingredients. The incumbent has had six years to develop a track record, and we are basically six years older and deeper in debt,” he said.

“I acquired my academic foundation and additional skill sets to avoid trouble and prepare for opportunity. Unlike the other candidates, I have a track record demonstrating an ability to save, improve performance, reduce waste, avoid trouble, start a business, meet a payroll, understand cash flow and handle accounts payable and accounts receivable.”

Truman: “Jobs and economic development.”
-- What role should the state play in new business recruitment/expansion and job creation?
Brotheridge: “Wisconsin has to be business friendly. That is why I believe we must work to reduce the tax burden on our businesses and create an environment that businesses can expand in and hire. Then we can make it a priority to focus on business retention and expansion.

“Collaboration between our colleges and employers can help provide job experience for the student and provide greater research and development for the employer. Tax credits should be available to those who retrain and retain workers. Tax credits should also be used to bring in more industries to the local economic area.”

Knilans: “The state needs to lower taxes and reduce over-burdensome regulations on businesses. A recent study completed on the competitiveness of Wisconsin, ‘Be Bold Wisconsin,’ compared our state to other states and found that Wisconsin ranks No. 28 for starting up a business and No. 29 for expanding a business. These rankings must be changed in order to bring back businesses to Wisconsin.”
Knipp: “The state should be a motor, however, the Doyle administration has turned it into an anchor. Basically, Wisconsin has been Rip Van Winkle in this area. Only 39 of 328 permanent employees in the commerce department are charged with business and economic development. The commerce department has had five different leaders in the last eight years, and four in the last three years. Whoever the next governor appoints as commerce secretary will have to develop venture capital sources and reorganize the department.

“Unfortunately, Wisconsin will be playing catch-up to neighboring states. ‘Be Bold Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Competitiveness Study’ provides a guide, however, competent leadership is essential to improving Wisconsin’s economy.”

Truman: “We need to look at our tax codes and simplify them. We also need to look at incentives to draw companies.”
-- The state faces a projected $2.5 billion budget deficit as it begins working on the 2011-2013 budget. How would you balance the budget? What specific programs or services would you cut? How would you increase revenue?
Brotheridge: “A combination of solutions must be used to circumvent a larger state deficit in the 2011-2013 biennium budget. The state legislators must crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in government spending.

“More transparency in government spending will help the state Legislature work to understand that resources are limited and reduce services if need be in order to loosen that tax burden on Wisconsin residents. Evaluating pay scales of state workers should also be calculated. The government must also turn to the private sector to provide services instead of taking on more responsibilities.

“I also believe that in order to balance the budget, the state Legislature should not take money from one department budget to pay for the overall state budget. The state Legislature could also work more closely with the stabilization fund.”

Knilans: “I would work with other legislators to pass the Wisconsin First Amendment to provide spending controls, property tax relief and responsible budgeting. Wisconsin First Amendment would serve three purposes: a limit on state taxes, a rainy day fund and a potential source of property tax relief.

“The most important issue is the long-term budgeting. We cannot continue to take monies from other funds (i.e. the transportation fund) to fill holes in the budget. Taking money from other funds is just a short-term fix that will create more budget holes in the next budgeting cycle like the $2.5 billion we currently have.

“The first service I would target is the high-speed train. We as taxpayers cannot sustain the upkeep and subsidize the ridership. This is wasteful spending. To increase revenue, we must bring business back to Wisconsin creating a larger tax base therefore increasing revenue.”

Knipp: “Declining revenues, the use of $3.45 billion stimulus dollars in the 2009-2011 budgets, structural imbalances since 1997-99 (now $1.2 billion) all combine to produce a perfect fiscal storm for our next governor and Legislature. All programs and services are subject for review toward improving performance and reducing waste.

“Property taxes and income taxes are already substantial. At this time, the only tax increase I might consider involves user fees and an Internet sales tax as they are specific to the individual situation.”

Truman: “I’ve had a lot of experience with the city of Janesville’s budget, but until I actually get to Madison and get the budget and see what program are getting what, it’s hard to say what could be cut. But tough choices will have to be made across the board, and everything will be on the table.”

Last updated: 3:01 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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