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What Wisconsin small business needs now – Wisconsin Examiner

Main Street in Cambridge
Main Street in the Wisconsin community of Cambridge. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

Small business owners, workers and communities across Wisconsin support the Badger bounceback budget put forward by Governor Tony Evers. Here’s why. 

First, it prioritizes Main Street Wisconsin with $200 million in additional support, on top of the $600 million of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. Some businesses were able to pivot and depending on the sector some did just fine. For others, the past year has been devastating. For example, wedding venues. You can’t “pivot” if your entire business model is bringing people together for large group events. Many business owners I know worked incredibly hard to retain staff, pay their rent or mortgage, and keep things afloat. 

It cannot be overstated how important the “We’re all in” grants, as well as local support from local governments such as what happened in Dane county, have helped. There is much more to do and we’re glad to see the governor is prioritizing small, Main Street businesses instead of what the Assembly and Senate majority is prioritizing: tax cuts for the wealthiest people and corporations in Wisconsin. They are doing this in the form of property tax relief which will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts for them while regular, working Wisconsinites might get a few hundred bucks. 

Second, the Assembly and Senate majority must prioritize Badgercare expansion, with a public option. If you survey small business owners, the cost of health care again and again is their main concern. Small business owners want to provide high quality health insurance but with margins so thin for many Main Street businesses it is hugely difficult to do so. Having an option for lower earners, as well as an option to “buy in” for middle class folks would help tremendously and allow small businesses to invest in their workforce, expand their business and do more for the community. 

Every other legislature in the Midwest has taken the federal Medicaid expansion. It makes our state less competitive not to do so. Importantly, Wisconsin would receive $1.6 billion dollars in tax savings, which could be spent on other priorities such as roads, broadband, schools or other important investments if we take the expansion. Saying no is becoming more expensive every day and we call on the Legislature to take the Badgercare expansion without delay. 

Lastly, Wisconsin must invest in our kids and families by supporting increased funding for child care across our state, but especially in rural communities. Far too many families have to make decisions on their career and their family based on whether or not they can get care for their kids. There are entire parts of Wisconsin where there are no good options for child care. This hurts rural communities and inner city communities the most where business investment is most needed. We urge the Legislature to prioritize funding for our families by making child care more affordable, accessible and by providing support to child care centers to pay their workers enough to attract and retain talented folks to take care of our kids. 

There is still more work to do but if we’re going to complete the Badger bounceback we need to make these critical investments in our small businesses, our health care system and our families. Let’s come together and get it done.