Nevertheless, Ol Lady Owen Robinson, in a spirit of good-neighborliness, uses his West Bend Daily News column to "exhort" Washington County to try to raid Milwaukee for businesses. The sales tax referendum and the sick day mandate can be used as wedges to pry them out, he says.
The core argument:
During the same election, the residents of the city of Milwaukee passed a referendum to require most businesses to provide nine paid sick days. They passed this binding referendum nearly two to one. To put this in perspective, a business that employs 100 people in Milwaukee must now provide 900 days, or nearly 2.5 years, of paid time off every single year. ...
Washington County and the municipalities therein should put together a concerted marketing campaign to recruit consumers and businesses to Washington County.
The retail consumer should be easily enticed into Washington County. For example, if a consumer purchases a living room furniture set, they could easily spend $3,500. In Milwaukee County, that purchase would cost $3,731 after the sales tax increase. In Washington County, the same purchase would only be $3,696. The $35 in savings is clearly worth a 10-minute drive north.
The government entities in Washington County should also aggressively recruit businesses to move out of Milwaukee County. There are countless lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and other businesses that can service Milwaukee city residents without having to be subject to Milwaukee’s burdensome regulations and mandates. There’s no reason why they can’t operate out of Washington County, service the same customer base, and protect their right to run their businesses as they see fit and protect their revenues. That would bring good jobs and higher wages to Washington County.
Let's take the sick day issue first. As the Brawler's noted before, most employees who take sick days -- and a goodly number don't --take an average of 1.8 a year (i.e., a third the amount of time WTMJ talker Gene Mueller took off over a two week period). Businesses who look at what happened in San Francisco after a similar mandate went through will find the sky didn't fall, payrolls grew and few business owners complained. The specter of a company having to dole out 2.5 years of paid time off every single year is, on its face, laughable.
Moreover, the Brawler has a hard time seeing the sick-day mandate chasing out the kind of service businesses cited by Owen -- law firms, accounting firms and insurance agencies -- because those employers typically already offer a sick day benefit to their employees, including secretaries, office managers, etc. And no law firm is going to worry about a lawyer abusing his sick days -- a lawyer like that isn't going to stick around for long.
The Brawler finds the sales tax argument equally unpersuasive. Is saving $35 on a $3,500 furniture set really worth a 10-minute drive north?
A "10-minute drive north"? Getting to West Bend from the east side/downtown can be a 90 minute round-trip odyssey. Getting there from Tosa can take an hour round trip. And what if you don't find what you want? You're screwed!
Now, the $35 in savings is greater than what you've spent on gas ... but is it worth the time you've lost on a busy weekend sitting in traffic?
The Brawler would suggest for a great many people -- particularly people who have $3,500 to spend -- the answer is: No. If you're already willing to drop $3,500 are you really going to sweat $35 if it means sitting in the car for an hour or longer?
If people were as sensitive to sales tax as Owen Robinson suggests, Crate and Barrel would have opened its store in Waukesha County and not Mayfair Mall (remember when Jeff Wagner described Mayfair as Baghdad? That was awesome.)
Might some businesses leave Milwaukee and blame one or both of these examples of overreach by big gummint? They might. Then again, Menard's said DNR regs prevented them from opening a distribution center in Wisconsin so they opened one in Iowa and Ohio instead. That was bullshit, too.
Parenthetically, how much government money is free-marketeer Owen willing to throw business' way to come to Washington County?
The Brawler's prediction: Washington County will follow Milwaukee County's lead and raise its sales tax in the foreseeable future.