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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lawmakers outline plan to aid industry, create jobs, boost biofuels

From an article by Joel Costanza in the News of the North:

RHINELANDER – Hoping for bipartisan support and action by next April, a group of northern Wisconsin Republican lawmakers outlined plans on Monday (Nov. 16) to make or save jobs in the state, and promote the growth of biofuels as an alternative energy source.

Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River), Rep. Don Friske (R-Merrill) and Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) were joined by business and education officials at an hour-long news conference Monday afternoon held at Ponsse North America headquarters in Rhinelander.

Aimed mainly to help agribusiness and the forest products industry – “the two largest engines of the state’s economy” in Friske’s words – Meyer and his colleagues said they would sponsor nine bills and a resolution over the coming months to provide tax breaks and other incentives to spur economic growth.

The lawmakers said the tax relief would be modeled after $1.3 million in dairy modernization tax credits passed earlier this year.

“We’re looking to do the same thing for loggers and sawmills, for example, to help them upgrade their equipment and expand their facilities to create new jobs,” Meyer said.

Mursau said, “The same great idea for agriculture will work for our aging sawmills around Wisconsin by providing tax incentives.”

Friske conceded that the job creation plan faces an uphill fight in the Democratically-controlled legislature, but said he’s optimistic that the effort will garner support from both sides of the aisle.

“We have a common enemy, which is the slumping economy,” Friske said.

In addition to tax exemptions for businesses, the proposals are aimed at streamlining government permitting, helping educators spread the word about bio-energy, and easing worker compensation costs, which officials said put Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage in luring new industry compared to neighboring states such as Michigan, Minnesota and many others where the business climate is friendlier.

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