WisBusiness: Doyle pushes R&D tax credit

By Greg Bump


MADISON — Gov. Jim Doyle today reiterated his wish to make Wisconsin a center of research and development and said he won’t back away from his proposal to offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for “companies that increase their research and development substantially” in Wisconsin. He also said he’d like to provide tax exemptions to companies purchasing equipment used for research and development.

“We can make Wisconsin truly a center for R&D, and we cannot back away from that commitment right now and say we’ll get back to that in a few years,” Doyle said.

Doyle said his top priorities in the state budget are education and health care, but even those areas won’t be immune to cuts as the state wrestles with a projected $5.7 billion budget deficit, he said.

“There is no way to deal with the size and scope of the deficit we’re facing without touching every single part of that budget,” he told a daylong conference aimed at examining long-term solutions to the state’s budget problems. The conference was sponsored by Wisconsin Way, a collaborative effort by numerous groups to look at fixes to Wisconsin’s economy.

Doyle praised a recent Wisconsin Way report that recommended several ways to fix the state economy. The report, he said, shows the importance of “not just continuing to push our problems onto the property tax and onto local governments.”

He didn’t say specifically which, if any, Wisconsin Way proposals he may include in his budget.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Doyle said he sees the need for “a modernization of the tax code,” such as enacting the streamlined sales tax proposal to allow the state to capture sales tax from online purchases.

“Particularly in this difficult time it has always seemed unfair to me that if you’re a business in that state that has a building, pays property taxes and has employees you collect and pay a sales tax,” Doyle said, speaking with reporters following a lunch address to the Wisconsin Way conference. “But if it’s done online then it isn’t a sales tax in most cases.”

Doyle also offered a joke to the crowd based on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s quip about efforts the two states are making to consolidate some services. In his recent State of the State speech, Pawlenty characterized the initiative as “the gopher shall lie down with the badger.”

“I’m not sure that would be good for the gopher,” Doyle said, drawing laughs. “Anyway, just get that image out of your mind.”