Exclusive: Tim Michels on jobs and economy, plans to shake up state agencies

MADISON, Wis. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels says he has big plans to shake up state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, which he wants to see split into two agencies.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with News 3 Now, Michels discussed his plans to re-work other state agencies and how he hopes that would impact the Wisconsin economy.

“Everything’s on the table,” Michels said. “I’m not the kind of guy that says it’s okay for people to give me the answer: that’s the way we’ve always done it. That is not a good answer.”

He did not give any specific changes he wanted to make to other state agencies, like he did with the DNR. He said though, he wants to treat the state government like he does his business.

“We have 16 operating divisions at Michels. Every month, we do a formal review of each division, and every quarter we do a deep dive of each operating division — I don’t think anybody’s done that in a long time here in Madison with our state agencies,” he said.

“I hope that people in Wisconsin will be confident when I’m done, that their tax dollars are being used wisely, frugally and effectively, and that state government is running as efficiently as it possibly can,” Michels added.

The GOP candidate extends that business metaphor to the people of Wisconsin as well. He said during a campaign stop in Madison Wednesday that the people and businesses of Wisconsin are the “customers” of state government, and his administration has a duty to provide them the best return on their investment.

“We’re going to get a better return on people’s tax dollars for themselves, their kids, their communities and that’s going to change Wisconsin for generations to come,” Michels said.

He also said providing tax cuts in future budgets will be key to attract and retain workers in Wisconsin.

“We are going to also make Wisconsin more attractive for young people that are graduating … and veterans, when they get out of the service, they’ll probably more likely to return to Wisconsin or other veterans will say, ‘I’m gonna go to Wisconsin because there’s a favorable tax rate there and it’s a great place to raise a family,'” he said.

Michels did not offer specifics on what that favorable tax environment would look like, but said he would commit to lowering the state’s income tax and eliminating the personal property tax.

“We’re going to put everything on the table, everything on the whiteboard,” he said. “There’s a $5.8 billion surplus. Tony Evers he thinks that’s a good thing. I think it’s a bad thing because the people of Wisconsin have been overtaxed.”

You can watch the full interview Sunday, Oct. 23, on For the Record.