POLK COUNTY, Wis. - Wisconsin State Representative Erik Severson doesn't live far from the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, and he says he's not asking businesses to move too far.
"In a lot of ways, what is there to lose by saying to Minnesota businesses, come on over here? This is a great place to do business," the Republican told KARE 11.
Severson and his staff sent letters to several hundred businesses in Minnesota, encouraging them to take a look at Wisconsin's business climate following Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's proposal that could include a business to business tax. "I think most businesses understand that this is going to be crippling and very, very hurtful," he explained. The letters went to Fortune 500 corporations and small businesses.
DFLers, who hold the Governor's office and the House and Senate in Minnesota, didn't feel threatened. "They may put up signs, but Minnesotans, they're nesting their businesses here and keeping their businesses here," House Majority Leader Erin Murphy of St. Paul said.
"We didn't see an exodus of businesses to South Dakota when Governor Janklow was trying to recruit them back when Perpich was Governor and we're not going to see it this time either," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook said.
A few minutes later, Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt had a different take. "Some of that probably is they're having a little fun with us but I don't want anybody to be laughing about this because it's serious," he told reporters. "We (in Minnesota) need to show that our tax policy is encouraging what we want to see and that's job growth," the Representative added.
The Governor addressed the border rival in his State of the State address, saying Minnesota's job growth was 12th best in the nation. "Wisconsin, which by the way is open for business, helped bring in the rear at 42nd," he said.
Severson says he's looking forward and thinks that politics and policies could be lining up for his state. "This is an opportunity that Governor Dayton's given to us to really sell Wisconsin to Minnesota businesses," he concluded.
State lawmakers in Minnesota haven't really discussed the Governor's business to business tax proposal yet this session, but they'll do so in the coming weeks.