Corporate Welfare in America’s Dairyland (Yet Again)

The practice of thriving, multi-million-dollar companies taking ordinary taxpayers’ money to subsidize their private ventures has two aspects: (1) it’s wrong, as it takes from those with little and gives to those with much and (2) it’s sadly commonplace.

Consider the case of Husco International, a private company in Wisconsin with an expectation of “more than $360 million in global revenue in 2013, a 300-percent increase over 2009 and 20 percent higher than 2012.” By Husco’s own account, it’s committing tens of millions to a capital expansion that will produce one-hundred fifty jobs.

And yet, and yet, despite extraordinary growth and private profit, Husco will still take $800,000 in public money (as tax credits) from the Walker Administration.

Taxpayers’ Tab. At up to $800,000 for 150 jobs, Husco International could reap $5,333 per job from taxpayers over a three-year period. An ordinary person’s earnings – undoubtedly far more meager than the company’s $360 million in global revenue — will subsidize this company.

Having much, Husco will take from those who have far less.

Politics. For Governor Walker (or in their respective days, Govs. Doyle, McCallum, or Thompson), the attraction is clear: use hundreds of thousands in taxpayers’ earnings to associate oneself with another’s success, as though all these reported gains in jobs were somehow impossible without a state subsidy.

That’s a taxpayer-funded, $800,000 campaign commercial.

If Husco can commit $45,000,000 privately (assuming it’s all private), then they can commit 1.7% more for a truly free-market venture. If they can’t, then they’ve a problem of planning that makes them even less suitable for public funds. (This assumes a company with $360 million in expected revenue could be any less suitable for public money).

Many Past Jobs Have Been Abroad. Husco promises these jobs, should they all develop, will be in Wisconsin. [Local Note: They don’t say how many for which towns, in Waukesha or Whitewater. It’s a convenient way to keep both cities’ hopes up.]

Businesses should be able to locate where they wish, but it’s fair to ask a business that now wants tax credits: What about the location of past job growth?

Reportedly, Husco spent large sums previously, but for “new jobs globally, approximately half of which” were in Wisconsin.

Approximately half.

I’ll assume that whatever jobs they do create now will be in Wisconsin; past job-creation has included places elsewhere.

Wisconsin tax credits for Husco presently will bolster a company that previously hired abroad — at a geater number (approx. 250) — than they promise to hire now (150) in Wisconsin. This public money for Husco needlessly bolsters a company that hasn’t always been so Wisconsin-centric.

(Even considering past, published local hiring, almost 40% of these two waves will have been for foreign jobs.)

Multi-million-dollar companies should not receive, as they do not deserve, corporate welfare.

That’s true everywhere, including America’s Dairyland.

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