By Rep. Tom Petri
In traveling throughout the Sixth District, I always enjoy touring manufacturing facilities and seeing firsthand how products are made - from shoes and food processing to all the parts and components that are generated in Wisconsin and used in factories throughout country.
As a whole, U.S. manufacturing employment has seen a decline in recent years. But Wisconsin has fared better than most states and remains a domestic powerhouse of manufacturing production. This is a testament to the strong work ethic, pride and innovation that Wisconsinites put into manufacturing that in turn generates some of the highest quality materials and products in the world.
Right here in the Sixth District, I've visited many companies that proudly show off their technology, products, and dedicated employees. I was glad to have the opportunity recently to tour Waukesha Metal Products in Grafton, an award-winning company that specializes in metalforming and exports its products across the world. Once, when I visited Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, I met an employee who had not missed a single day of work in more than 30 years with the company.
I'm proud to say that Allen Edmonds, a high-quality shoe-maker in Port Washington, is one of only a handful of shoe companies that make their products in the United States. And Oshkosh Corporation has grown to become one of the largest defense contractors in the country, making safer, all-purpose vehicles for our military.
These examples are just a few of the many manufacturers in our state that represent success and innovation. We need these voices heard in Washington as Congress looks to increase domestic manufacturing production through comprehensive tax reform.
The House Ways and Means Committee - which is tasked with writing and overseeing all revenue measures, including the tax code - recently established 11 working groups to collect input from various sectors on comprehensive tax reform. The bipartisan Working Group on Manufacturing is presently seeking input from manufacturers throughout the country. Wisconsin, as one of the top states in terms of the percentage of its workforce engaged in manufacturing, should share its views for the benefit of the nation at large.
While we can't put a Wisconsin work ethic in every worker in the country, our business owners and leaders can provide valuable information and feedback about how our tax system affects their business. Certain provisions in the tax code, such as the domestic production deduction that allows certain companies to reduce their overall tax rate by three percent, are utilized heavily by manufacturers but are administratively difficult to manage, prove and claim. Many small manufacturers and start-ups file taxes using the individual tax rate as opposed to the corporate rate, and changes to one side, but not the other, can have a negative impact.
Public comments will be accepted by the Ways and Means Committee through April 15, and manufacturers interested in submitting feedback to the working group can send a Word document to the working group by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line, "Comments: Manufacturing Tax Reform Working Group".
I'm proud of the successful and robust manufacturing sector in Wisconsin, and I encourage all manufacturers to participate and send their comments to the Ways and Means Committee.