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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 11:37 AM 

Dueling studies, figures

The trading of numbers and studies is on.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s Mike Nichols touted polling done for his group that shows broad public support of right-to-work and a new study out today from the group that found states with right-to-work over the past 30 years has experienced greater per capita personal income growth than other states.

Nichols noted Wisconsin’s per capita personal income of $43,244 in 2013 was $1,521 less than the national average. If Wisconsin had adopted right-to-work in 1983, the study found, per capita income would have been $1,683 higher in 2013.

"Folks elsewhere might think we’re doing OK, but we know in Wisconsin we’ve fallen behind in recent decades," Nichols said, arguing right-to-work could slow or reverse the trend.

Nichols and Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, jousted about WPRI’s funding and whether its polling is biased.

Nichols was followed by Marquette University Prof. Abdur Chowdhury, who testified Bureau of Labor statistics show wages in right-to-work states are about $4 an hour less than those without.

He said a drop of that magnitude in Wisconsin would mean annual incomes would drop $2.97 billion, creating a ripple effect. He said that drop in income will mean less money spent in grocery stores and transportation meaning an overall loss of $4.5 billion. That would then mean an annual drop in state revenues of about $239 million a year.

“If we have a right-to-work law in Wisconsin, this will lead to loss of income, this will lead to loss of revenue to the state government overall,” he said. “We do not see any economic advantage of having a right-to-work law, while there will be significant social cost.”

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, asked Chowdhury who commissioned his study. The professor said it was paid for by a coalition of contractors, which opposes the law.


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