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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  Fair
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COVER STORY

WMC on the issues

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Taxes: The business lobby group's biggest boogeyman is taxes, whether corporate income taxes, personal income taxes or local property taxes. WMC officials often cite rankings that place Wisconsin among the top 10 most-taxed states. WMC president Jim Haney has called for an end to corporate income taxes, and the group has touted failed measures to make local jurisdictions conduct referendums anytime they seek to raise property taxes above a certain threshold. The liberal Institute for Wisconsin's Future says Wisconsin is toward the middle of the states in terms of tax burden and reports that two out of three corporations avoided paying state income taxes.

Tort reform: WMC favors restrictions on civil lawsuits and caps on damages. State Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler's 2005 opinion regarding lead paint liability helped spur WMC's campaign to oust Butler this year. Yet a recent Associated Press review found that WMC's predictions of a lawsuit bonanza in the ruling's wake never came true, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Wisconsin as having the nation's 10th-best legal climate for business in 2007, up from number 17.

Minimum wage: WMC, which typically has a representative on state councils that recommend changes in the state minimum wage, opposes minimums higher than the federal minimum, as well as proposals to index the state minimum to inflation. Gov. Jim Doyle signed legislation three years ago that included a WMC-backed ban on local minimum wages.

Universal health care: WMC opposes Healthy Wisconsin and other proposals for a state-sponsored universal health-care plan.

Hospital tax: WMC originally opposed a plan to impose a tax of just under 1% on hospital gross revenues. It then reversed itself after the Wisconsin Hospital Association backed the plan, which would enable hospitals to collect more federal Medicaid funds. WMC's rare apostasy in support of the $400 million "assessment" brought criticism from conservatives. The tax is not part of the recent state budget repair bill.

Great Lakes compact: Originally an opponent of the eight-state agreement governing access to Great Lakes water, WMC reversed itself in early April and came out in favor of a GOP compromise measure to approve the agreement. But critics say the compromise favors developers and weakens the compact.

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