Tags: Asbury | States | Economic | Innovation

Look to States for Economic Innovation

By    |   Wednesday, 26 March 2014 05:26 PM

If your perception of this country’s economic outlook is based on the depressing news coming out of Washington D.C., you’re missing the big picture. The innovation, the job creation, the statesmanship are not coming out of the White House – they’re coming out of states like Wisconsin and North Dakota, which are unencumbered by flawed federal policies and uninspired leadership.

I chatted with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker two weeks ago on my radio show "Made in America", and I came away with renewed respect for his leadership.

Walker’s launch of his “Blueprint for Prosperity,” has turned a $3.6 billion deficit in Wisconsin into a $2.0 billion dollar surplus. The word “surplus” has disappeared from our federal government lexicon; replaced by exploding levels of debt.

His approach is based on a simple reality: if you lower taxes and initiate reforms instead of implementing restrictive and unnecessary regulations, you can put taxpayers back in charge while putting money in their pockets.

That may explain why Wisconsin’s unemployment dropped by three percentage points and is now 6.1 percent. They are experiencing the best private sector job growth since the 1990’s.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate continues to grow as more people are dropping out of the workforce. Millions of Americans are simply giving up.

Unlike in other areas of the U.S., Wisconsin companies aren’t moving overseas; they’re staying put and hiring local workers. Businesses in surrounding states are taking notice and escaping higher taxes and oppressive unions, and relocating to Wisconsin.

Walker was vilified for his actions, but now other states look at Wisconsin and see opportunity, not the defeatist attitude adopted by many Americans. Once you restore power to employers to create jobs and train workers for today’s jobs, it is the blueprint for economic growth.

Then we can turn to North Dakota, which in 2006, ranked 38th among the states in average personal income. By 2012, it was sixth. Department of Commerce data show that over those six years, North Dakota’s per capita personal income went from 14 percent below the national average to 25 percent above.

Other states would be doing summersaults for these kinds of results. Let’s face it; the federal government would be ecstatic if they could emulate even 1/3 of this achievement.

Yes, part of their success can be attributed to the Bakken Shale field, which has helped North Dakota oil production double in the past three years, hitting 769,000 barrels of oil per day. This has helped the state surpass Alaska, California, and Oklahoma and become the country's second biggest oil producer, after Texas.

Taking this into account, you might suspect that gaining economic success through energy is a no-brainer. But look at states in the Northeast that are sitting on gas deposits while their citizens are at each other’s throats over mining and exploration. As these fights rage over regulation, the money that could have been generated remains under their feet.

By contrast, in North Dakota it takes about 10 days to get a drilling permit. A federal drilling permit takes about 10 months, if a company can even gain access to drilling on federal land.

North Dakota is also embracing more Green energies, including supporting thriving wind energy manufacturing operations for windmills and blades. A high school friend of mine, a successful recruiter in Pittsburgh, is sending many well-paid automobile engineers and lean manufacturing managers from the Midwest who have been downsized due to unionization, to North Dakota to build windmills.

Instead of bleeding jobs, North Dakota is waging on all-out campaign to attract more workers to the state, targeting thousands of veterans and active military members who will re-enter civilian life.

More importantly, North Dakota recognizes the value in training new graduates and job seekers to be able to gain the skills sets they need to work in the energy industry. Like Wisconsin, they are recruiting from surrounding states.

That may explain why North Dakota is the best-run state in the country for the second year in a row, according to the website 24/7 Wall St. More than 60,000 new jobs have been created, more than $1 billion in comprehensive tax relief has been provided to North Dakota citizens, and more than $1 billion has been invested in strengthening the state’s infrastructure

There are lessons to be learned here. It starts with getting priorities straight: put people first; support small business; do not over-tax and over-regulate; and don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers. It’s no coincidence that the governors of North Dakota and Wisconsin are Republicans.

When leaders are more interested in action than rhetoric, things get done. If only our President and our Congress started thinking and acting like governors instead of politicians.

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If your perception of this country's economic outlook is based on the depressing news coming out of Washington D.C., you're missing the big picture.
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 05:26 PM
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