In early 2022, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Chamber Foundation (WMC) released a long-term strategic plan. The report identified why the state faces a workforce shortage, how Wisconsin contends with both a “skills gap” and a “people gap,” and pursued potential solutions to grow the working age population.
To address the workforce need, the state must take aggressive action to attract and retain talent. A recent Wisconsin Employer Survey found that nearly three-quarters of businesses support a taxpayer-funded talent attraction campaign aimed at drawing more people into Wisconsin. As a result, lawmakers in Wisconsin have already taken the first step. The 2021-2023 Wisconsin State Budget requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to expend at least $3 million from its state appropriations for talent attraction and retention initiatives.
Proposal: Eliminate the personal income tax
Marketing and attraction efforts are not nearly enough to meet the workforce demand of current and future businesses. WMC argues that the state’s current tax environment deters working age professionals from coming to Wisconsin. A recent analysis by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage firm, shows that between 2013 and 2020, Americans have shifted population away from high tax states toward lower tax states. Data from the U.S. Census supports this.
To compete, WMC has proposed lawmakers eliminate the personal income tax in Wisconsin to help attract workers. In return, the state would increase the sales and use tax from 5% to 8%. This increase would be in line with other Midwest states. Agricultural and manufacturing companies in Wisconsin often receive sales and use tax exemptions for products utilized in manufacturing.
Regardless of which approach the state implements, Wisconsin is getting aggressive with its efforts to attract and retain workers and fill the people gap. The state’s ability to bring in talent will have a direct impact on the state’s ability to attract, expand and retain business.
To read the full report, visit Wisconsin 2035: A Vision for Wisconsin’s Economic Future.