Everybody, including Republicans, like to tout small businesses as the strongest source of economic development. It is where most new jobs come from, not to mention new ideas.
Which is why people should shake their heads when Gov. (and likely presidential candidate) Scott Walker brags about his record in Wisconsin. A major study released this month shows that Wisconsin ranks dead last in new business start-up activity.
And this isn’t something that he can blame on his predecessor or on something else beyond his control. There is plenty of good reasons to blame Walker for the bad economic outlook for small businesses in the state.
For example, Walker (like other Republican governors) turned down federal money that Obamacare provided to expand Medicare and Medicaid. So if you depend on your regular job to provide health insurance, it is very difficult to quit it in order to start your own new business. It is just too risky.
Walker also turned down federal money to build a high-speed rail system, which would have provided thousands of jobs. In addition, his refusing the money caused a multinational manufacturing company to shut down their Wisconsin plant and sue the state for $65 million for breach of contract.
Perhaps most damning of all is that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation removed Walker as the agency’s chair because of scandals.
And you can’t blame it on other economic factors in the area. Ironically, Walker famously traveled to next-door Illinois with the slogan “Wisconsin is open for business” and tried to lure companies to relocate from that state. But while Wisconsin is suffering, Illinois is one of the states at the top of the rankings for start-up activity. And the country as a whole enjoyed the largest year-over-year start-up growth in two decades.