Attacking the Job Creators

Wisconsin Bike Fed
I’m not much of a talk radio guy. On my weekly trips to Milwaukee I usually tune in a jazz or folk station on the Internet.

But it’s worth giving a listen to a segment of the Charlie Sykes show from last week. Sykes is a conservative Milwaukee radio host with a lot of influence among Republican legislators.

And he comes down against the bike tax. Moreover, he even adopts one of our reasons for opposing it: that it alienates an important Wisconsin industry. He quotes figures we use all the time: that the industry accounts for $1.5 billion in economic activity and is responsible for 14,000 jobs.

Sykes picks up on our argument that legislators who generally oppose all taxes, especially on business, shouldn’t be singling out one industry for taxation. Your contacts to legislators and strong opposition from Trek and bicycle shops already weakened any support for the bike tax. Sykes’ opposition may seal its fate.

But it goes beyond just the bike tax. The Complete Streets repeal and the cut of all state funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects as well as state trails is another set of affronts to the bike industry.

Why would a state government that frets about our business climate want to go out of its way to put a sharp stick in the eye of people who create so many jobs here?

Trek. Saris. Pacific Cycle. Madrax. Planet Bike. None of these businesses need to be in Wisconsin. They could all go someplace else. And, in fact, in the case of the biggest among them, Trek, that company might be better off in a lot of ways in a place that was closer to major travel hubs and where it was easier to recruit top talent.

Most of these businesses are only here because of personal family ties to the state. If Richard Burke hadn’t chosen Waterloo as Trek’s home base simply because it was halfway between his home in the Milwaukee suburbs and his then business partner in Madison the nation’s most prestigious bike company wouldn’t be here.

So when state government goes out of its way to poke the bike industry they’re playing a reckless game with jobs and productivity. That’s not about being open for business.

Note: It now appears that the Joint Finance Committee will take up the bike tax, complete streets, TAP and the Stewardship Fund late on Friday if not later in the weekend.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

3 thoughts on “Attacking the Job Creators

  1. Well said. Only comment is that you should tune in to folk in the morning and jazz in the afternoon on your community radio station, WORT (89.9 in Madison or worldwide at wort-fm.org!)

  2. Regardinsafe Streets law and stewardship Fund so. What happened here why the change all the sudden. In governor walkers budget. Just wondering how much money is actually in the state budget. A reply would be greatly appreciated and helpful. Thanks in advance John
    C. Breecher

  3. I think we should all be more open minded about the budget process. Just like in the family home, we need to look at ALL spending on a regular basis to determine what’s needed, when and how much. It isn’t unhealthy to go through this process locally, regionally and nationally.
    The conversation should take place. The more positive it can be with actual facts and with an open mind and respect towards everyone, bikers and non-bikers included, will help produce a justified and more acceptable outcome. As the old saying goes, if both sides don’t like the decision, it’s probably the right decision. Everyone likes to talk about the lack of compromise, except of course when it’s their position they want at 100%.
    To only consider one’s own personal and most time biased position is what leads to a lot of discord, negativeness and distrust, exactly what’s not needed when the next big decision comes along.

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