The outgoing chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has written a blunt piece about the direction of his state for the current issue of Madison Magazine. John D. Wiley's thesis:
Our politics has become a poisonous swill, and the most influential voice for the business community has been taken hostage by partisan ideologues.
Wiley looks approvingly toward Massachusetts, aruing that supposedly high-tax states have better economic conditions than low-tax (and low-income) states:
So which economies should we aspire to: the dynamic, high-income, high-tech, twenty-first-century economies of Minnesota, Delaware and Massachusetts, or the economies of South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama? Would raising Wisconsin's existing tax rates move us toward the former? Clearly not. State economies involve lots more parameters than the rate of taxation, and Wisconsin's current tax system is so unbalanced that simply raising rates would drive us in the wrong direction. But it is equally clear that higher taxation, by itself, hasn't hampered the economies of states that are outperforming Wisconsin, and lower taxation hasn't made the economies of Tennessee and Alabama any better in ways that benefit the citizens of those states.
Not surprisingly, Wiley also stresses the importance of investment in public higher education -- a bit ironinc given the fact that "dynamic" Massachusetts is not a big spender in this area and relies more heavily on private higher education than just about any state:
As chancellor, I had lots of occasions to meet with prominent, influential Wisconsin citizens and business leaders, and public support for public education was always at or near the top of my agenda for discussion. With almost no exceptions, everyone agreed that we can't grow our future economy without significant new investments in education--or at least a restoration of some of the last fifteen years worth of cuts. Those in the high-tech community are especially worried about the state's direction.