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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Does Mary Burke Want to Take Us Back to... This?

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Posted at Right Wisconsin.

Back in March 2009, I wrote a piece for Wisconsin Interest magazinethat was more or less modeled on William Allen White’s famous "What’s the Matter With Kansas?" Updated and localized, but still using some of White’s rhetoric, I asked the same question about Wisconsin. 
Four years later, it’s useful to remember where we were back in the waning days of the Jim  Doyle Era: 
*In December 2008, the Brookings Institution released a study showing that Wisconsin experienced a net loss of 20,000 people to other states in the last four years. From 2000 to 2004, Wisconsin gained residents from other states; but from 2004 to 2008, Wisconsinites voted with their feet, and the pace of their departure was  accelerating.
*A September 2008 study from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Government found that Wisconsin has one of the five worst migration patterns in the country: While people with money are moving out, we were a magnet for the poor.4  In states like New Jersey, the Princeton study found, "poor people leave, but rich people do not." Wisconsin is the anti-Jersey: Wisconsin, it found, "is more attractive to low-income individuals than high-income earners."
*Wisconsin's per capita income has fallen from 98% of the national average at the beginning of the decade to under 94% at the end of last year - a drop of $5,000 a year for a family of four. Yet our neighbors - who share the scourge of our climate - continued to grow comparatively rich. Our per capita income ($34,476) lagged behind both Minnesota ($38,751) and Illinois ($38,297). 
*We also lagged lag behind the nation and our own region both in creating jobs and opening new businesses. In 2006, the number of businesses nationally grew by 2.5%, while here the number of new private-sector businesses dropped 0.4%.6 By the end of 2007, the state had 2,487 fewer private businesses than it had in 2006.7 In 2008, Wisconsin was one of just 20 states where local venture capital funds raised no money at all.


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