Contact: Tom Still (608) 442-7557

MADISON – Creation of an Education Tax Credit, expansion of the CAPCO venture capital program and the removal of legal barriers that discourage investment in Wisconsin start-up companies were among the recommendations made by the Wisconsin Technology Council to the Governor’s Economic Growth Council.

The first meeting of the governor’s economic advisory group was held Tuesday at University Research Park in Madison.

“Our recommendations in four major areas – building human capital and investment capital, developing our technology clusters and enhancing our infrastructure – are the result of a continuing policy discussion within the Tech Council,” said Mark Bugher, chairman of the Tech Council and director of the University Research Park. “In each area, our recommendations are geared toward building high-tech, high-wage jobs and businesses for Wisconsin.”

The Tech Council’s 56-page report contains about three-dozen recommendations, including:

Passage of an Education Tax Credit that would give employers a credit equal to 50 percent of tuition paid at any Wisconsin college, university or technical college. Tuition could be paid for current or prospective employees. The credit would rise to 75 percent of tuition paid for individuals at 185 percent of poverty. Such a credit would shift the locus of decision-making to the market (employers) rather than academics or a government bureaucracy, and encourage private investment in education.

Expansion of the CAPCO program by $200 million over 10 years while extending tax benefits to permit additional in-state insurance firms to invest in CAPCOs. Wisconsin’s Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program is the smallest among the eight states that have such a program, but it has thus far invested $20.7 million in 15 high-growth companies in biotechnology, medical device, semiconductors and communications.

Repeal of a unique Wisconsin law that discourages investment in Wisconsin start-ups and which encourages state entrepreneurs to incorporate their businesses elsewhere. The courts have interpreted subsection (2)(b) of Section 180.0622 of the Wisconsin Statutes as providing that those who invest in a Wisconsin corporation can be personally liable – beyond their investment – for up to six months of unpaid employee wages if the company fails. That’s true even if the shareholder had no participation in the operation of the company. No other state has a similar law.

Following an economic strategy that builds upon technology clusters and research centers of excellence, rather than trying to build economies based upon geography. Wisconsin has a number of strong technology clusters, and technology will also be a major part of rebuilding the competitiveness of long-term Wisconsin industries such as papermaking, plastics and machinery and equipment manufacturing.
The Tech Council also urged continued investment in Wisconsin’s 21st century infrastructure – its K-16 school, energy, transportation and telecommunications systems – and that state policymakers avoid “picking winners” or otherwise adopting a state-guided industrial policy.

For more information, contact Tech Council President Tom Still at 608-442-7557.