WMC Member Alert: The Wall Street Journal Salutes Wisconsin’s Improved Business Climate

The Wall Street Journal today carried an editorial saluting Wisconsin for our improving business climate.

Wisconsin recently jumped into the top 25 business climates in America, based on a survey of over 500 CEOs conducted by chiefexecutive.net.

WMC is dedicated to making Wisconsin the most competitive state in the nation. The Legislature and Governor Walker recently approved long-sought reforms supported by WMC, including comprehensive litigation reform and other measures.

See the full editorial below.

The Wall Street Journal
May 16, 2011

States of Business

The verdict is still out on the political staying power of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining and other reforms. But if the opinion of American business counts for anything, he’s already helped the Badger State.

Chief Executive magazine recently completed its annual survey of CEOs on the best and worst states for business. The 500 CEOs graded the states on taxes and regulation, the quality of the work force and living environment, among other categories. Wisconsin made the biggest jump of any state, and one of the largest in the history of the survey, rising to 24th from 41st in 2010 and 43rd in 2009. Louisiana continued its rise, moving up 13 spots to 27th on the basis of its improvements in tax climate and deregulation. Indiana moved up 10 spots to sixth.

The Wisconsin jump is especially notable because Mr. Walker and a new GOP legislature only took office in January. This suggests that Big Labor’s attempt to make Mr. Walker a national political target had the ironic result of making Wisconsin more appealing to business executives. “Indiana and Wisconsin’s governors have been outspoken about wanting to be more business friendly,” says Chief Executive director for digital media Michael Bamberger.

CEOs don’t make investment decisions based solely on such impressions, but they can get a state a hearing it might not have previously received. Wisconsin still ranked 33rd among all states for taxation, and its grades on other categories didn’t change radically. But a company’s relationship with employees was also on CEOs’ minds. “Rules that make it hard, if not impossible, to separate from a non-productive employee make companies fearful to hire or locate in a state,” one CEO wrote.

Texas led the survey for the seventh straight year, followed by North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. As for the five worst states, you will not be surprised to learn that they are, in descending order, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and California. Tax-raising Illinois has dropped 40 places in five years and, as the magazine puts it, “is now in a death spiral.”

If this survey is any guide, and if his reforms can survive and expand, Mr. Walker may save Wisconsin from a similar fate.