Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Management 101: Wisconsin needs improvement


Typically as reports are issued grading states on various issues, Wisconsin tends to disappoint. Our taxes are some of the highest in the country. Ditto for debt per capita. Our unfriendly business climate ranks in the bottom ten among all states. Wisconsin’s income per capita also ranks near the bottom.

24/7 Wall Street is a Delaware corporation that operates a financial news and opinion outlet with pieces and material often published by AOL Finance, The Wall Street Journal online, MarketWatch, MSN Money, Time.com, and Newsweek.com. The news agency reports it has completed “one of the most comprehensive studies of state financial management ever performed by the mainstream media meant to help businesses and individuals examine state operation with an unbiased eye."

In essence, 24/7 Wall Street asks a simple question: How well is your state run? Where does it rank from a management perspective?
Hundreds of data categories were examined including debt rating agency reports, unemployment patterns and median income. From those, 24/7 Wall Street selected what it considered the most important areas of financial and overall government management to calculate its final rankings of all 500 states.

Wisconsin ranks number 18. Some observers would probably react with a double take, one of pleasant surprise. Number 18? Compared to most other dismal report cards Wisconsin has received, this ranking could be viewed as one to celebrate.

Let’s review what 24/7 Wall Street discovered about Wisconsin and pay attention to the individual rankings. Our debt per capita of $7,448 ranks number 27. The state’s unemployment rate at the time of the study, 7.9 percent ranks number 19. The 4.5 percent change in the price of homes from 2006 through 2009 ranks number 28. Median household income of $49, 993 ranks number 21. Credit rating rank number 26.

24/7 Wall Street says, “Wisconsin is average with regards to most of the measurements used in our ranking, failing to surpass 20th place for GDP per capita, percent of population below the poverty line, median household income, or debt per capita.”

How does Wisconsin earn a final management ranking of number 18? The answer is quite revealing. Wisconsin is commended in the report for having the seventh highest rate for insurance coverage. Only 9.4 percent of Wisconsinites are not covered.

Not surprisingly, most Wisconsin residents like their current health care coverage.
Wisconsin has some of the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best clinics, and some of the best care in the nation. Every year Health Grades, a leading health care ratings organization measures the quality of care at the nation’s approximately 5,000 hospitals and finds “Wisconsin is one of the top five states nationwide.”  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ranked Wisconsin health care as high as number two.

Some questions immediately come to mind. Do we really want to toss out our health care system and convert it into a government health care program? Why would we go that route, especially while many Wisconsin residents approve of their current health coverage and our care is good quality?

Put the 24/7 Wall Street report in perspective. If not for the rating about health insurance, our overall management ranking would have been much lower than number 18. Our states fares poorly in key management areas.

We can learn a valuable lesson from critical advice offered by 24/7 Wall Street.

“S
tates can control their own destinies. Well-run states have a great deal in common with well-run corporations. Books are kept balanced. Investment is prudent. Debt is sustainable. Innovation is prized. Workers are well-chosen and well-trained. Executives are picked based on merit and not ‘politics’.”

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