Thursday May 25, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

State and Local
Motion For Free Tuition For Wisconsin Technical College Students Blocked PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by GBP Staff   
Friday, 19 May 2017 16:09

matc-studentsRepublican controlled Joint Finance Committee votes down idea 12 to 4.

WEDC Audit Shows Little Improvement PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Assembly Democrats   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 10:09

walker-wedcAfter six years, the jobs creation agency fails on basic accountability.

MADISON - Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) issued the following statement Wednesday regarding the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) audit:

peter_barca“There continue to be bi-partisan concerns about how WEDC is spending taxpayer money. It’s time to turn that bi-partisan concern into bi-partisan reform. The purpose of WEDC is to create jobs for Wisconsin workers and grow our economy.

“As a board member, I am heartened that some administrative improvements have been made, but fundamental issues still remain.

“As a legislator, it is disappointing to see that two audits two years apart point out identical problems. WEDC must take immediate steps as the governor has not been willing to correct these problems as part of his budget.

“Walker’s agency is handing out millions of taxpayer dollars without proof that our money is creating jobs or even significantly enhancing the economy. Taxpayers deserve to know that they are getting the biggest bang for their hard-earned bucks.

“Another major issue is that the total number of unpaid loans has skyrocketed from $1.3 million two years ago to more than $11 million today. This also needs immediate attention."


Olivia Hwang contributed this story.

Walker's Economic Disaster Corporation Still In Chaos PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brandon Weathersby   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 09:27

walker-wedcA new Legislative Audit shows WEDC is still losing funds and failed to follow basic practices to track and recoup taxpayer funds. Republican Joint Finance Committee members look the other way.

MADISON - A new audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau shows Gov. Scott Walker's Economic Disaster Corporation (WEDC) is still fraught with chaos and disorder even as Republican Joint Finance Committee members shockingly recently voted to reinstate the WEDC's lending authority.

Gov. Scott Walker's flagship job creation agency is better known for a string of scandals since it's inception than creating good-paying jobs for Wisconsinites. Instead of creating jobs and helping new businesses thrive, WEDC has lost funds and failed to follow basic practices to track and recoup taxpayer funds.

According to the audit released Wednesday, WEDC still cannot accurately measure how many jobs it has created. This is the first WEDC audit since the agency regained its lending authority weeks ago, while Wisconsinites would have hoped that the agency had gotten its act together, today's audit paints a very different picture. It isn't the first time Gov. Walker's flagship job creation agency has shown an inability to do its duties on behalf of the taxpayers. Past audits have shown WEDC's internal chaos and disarray, which begs the question why would Republicans give the agency lending authority when WEDC has a history of not doing its job and hadn't shown any signs of progress.

martha-laning"A job creation agency is a fantastic idea, but after three consecutive disturbing audits over 6 years, clearly the Republicans have shown they need help getting the job done. Governor Walkers flagship job agency isn't even tracking whether their loans are creating jobs, enough is enough," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Wednesday. "Today's audit shows that Republicans haven't been responsible with taxpayers money and reinstating WEDC's lending authority without fixing the problem is just plain stupid. It's time for Republicans to partner with Democrats on a real plan to clean up the WEDC mess they created and start putting Wisconsinites first by using tax dollars to spur innovation through our universities, encourage entrepreneurial activity, and thereby create good-paying jobs for hard-working Wisconsinites."

JFC Democrats Renew Call to Reopen WEDC Post Audit PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Joint Finance Committee Democrats   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 08:58

walker-wedcAudit Shows Detailed Improvements That Should be Adopted in Budget.

MADISON – State budget committee Democrats renewed their call Wednesday to reopen the agency budget for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Last week, Democrats specifically asked and even moved to keep the agency open in the Joint Finance Committee because of the anticipated Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) WEDC audit. The WEDC audit was released today and recommends direct policies to address deficiencies in the administration of loans, tax credits, and grants by the quasi-public agency.

“This is not a surprise audit. Because WEDC is required by law to be audited, we knew this was coming and that is why we asked the agency to remain open. Last budget the committee closed the WEDC loan program specifically because an audit showed mismanagement of the program. Now we see additional changes needed in state law to improve the transparency and accountability of WEDC, and those changes should be made now in the state budget because they affect fiscal matters,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

katrina_shankland“Since WEDC was created, Wisconsin has trailed the nation in private sector job growth. We need to ensure that WEDC is actually helping create the promised jobs in Wisconsin. This audit demonstrates that more work needs to be done at WEDC to measure job growth as it relates to taxpayer investment. The audit bureau is showing the Legislature a clear path, and we need to take it,” said Representative Katrina Shankland (D- Stevens Point).

“Investments in Wisconsin’s businesses and workforce should be strong, and the case for balancing what we spend supporting businesses with what we spend supporting workers is made every time WEDC is audited. Outcomes matter, changes are necessary,” said Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

“The Legislative Audit Bureau determined that WEDC failed to lapse repaid tax credit payments to the state of Wisconsin as they are required under the law. That is $5.3 million owed back to the state. While we appreciate the progress made by WEDC in some areas, clearly more progress still needs to be made to ensure accountability for taxpayers. We should reexamine the recommendations from LAB in the context of the budget,” said Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).

The Legislative Audit Bureau is a non-partisan service agency and is required by law to audit WEDC every two years. The LAB made recommendations for improvements in the new WEDC audit in the areas of: administration of grant and loan programs, administration of tax credit programs, oversight of economic development programs, and financial management.

The audit briefing sheet and full audit can be viewed online.

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