Wednesday November 20, 2019

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I agree, Governor! Let’s Make Public Schools “Whole”

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
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on Monday, 25 May 2015
in Wisconsin

teaching-studentsRecent action taken by majority party members on the Joint Finance Committee on funding for public education provided limited additional revenue to public schools while opening the door for expansion of private vouchers. It will take dollars away from public schools.


ALMA, WI - “Our number one priority gotta to be make (sic) sure that we make K-12 schools, public education in the state, a priority to make sure they’re held whole,” said Governor Walker on April 23rd, as quoted by Wisconsin Radio Network.

I agree, Governor! Let’s make public schools “whole.”

In a recent late night session, the state’s budget writing committee took up public school funding. Many advocates expected a turnaround in the governor’s proposed funding for local schools. Instead folks got a big surprise: lots of changes asked for by private school lobbyists. Not so for public schools.

In a press release, State Superintendent Tony Evers described the actions this way:

  • For the first time ever, there is no increase in state imposed revenue limits over the next two school years, while voucher and independent charter school payments are increased in each year.
  • State general equalization aid to public schools is cut in the first year to pay for voucher expansion and increased independent charter school payments. This leaves public schools with less state general aid than in 2010.
  • Continues the freeze on state special education aid for what will be the eighth consecutive year, covering roughly a quarter of district special education costs while creating a new voucher program that drains funds from public schools.
  • Essentially eliminates teacher licensing standards by allowing public and private schools to hire anyone to teach, even those without a bachelor’s degree, planting Wisconsin at the bottom nationally, below states with the lowest student achievement levels.

Republicans on the Joint Finance committee opened wide the spigot of state money flowing to private schools. Created in late night actions was a new statewide special education “voucher” program with $12,000 per student leaving the local school district; permission for the multiplication of some privately-operated independent charter schools and statewide expansion of private vouchers for all students with a cap of 1% of the local district’s enrollment in the first year and moving to unlimited expansion after several years. Money for this statewide subsidy would come from the local public schools.

In addition, to keep competitive sports programs, public schools would be required to accept private and home-schooled children into their sports programs and extracurricular activities and not charge these students any more than a public school student would be charged for sports or extracurricular activities. This rule would essentially ask public school parents to underwrite the cost of these private school children coming back into the public schools to partake of after-school activities – as the school would receive no additional fees from the state for these students.

Republican Finance Committee members also voted to create a new private school take-over of Milwaukee public schools. This system would leave no public school alternative in many Milwaukee neighborhoods. Many residents are concerned this action violates the state’s constitution to require an equal and public education for all children.

Left far behind was the governor’s promise to make sure public schools are “held whole.”

Ironically the day before, the governor spoke to a pro-private school group in New Orleans - the American Federation for Children - according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.

Had the governor been here, I would have told him that to make schools “whole” means returning the money cut from public schools.

The cumulative cut to public schools since 2011 – the first Governor Walker budget – is nearly $1.7 billion. These cuts happened at a time when Wisconsin collected and spent a cumulative increase in revenue of nearly $13.8 billion.

These staggering cuts – at a time when the state was spending much more – drained the savings of school districts, delayed maintenance, caused pay cuts and freezes to staff and left children with fewer resources.

As state school aid dropped and districts used up all available budget cutting measures, many districts were forced to go to referendum. The Wisconsin Taxpayer recently reported 78% of referenda passed in April of 2015 – a significantly higher rate than prior years. Property taxpayers, committed to their local schools, are picking up more of the burden.

Local public schools are at a breaking point. These new private school proposals will hasten their demise. Governor, it’s time to stand by your promise and make our public schools “whole”.

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Joint Finance Committee Passes Omnibus Education Package on 12-4 Party Vote

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 20 May 2015
in Wisconsin

kids-milwWhile the plan increases K-12 funding, it also expands School Choice in Wisconsin and approves Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Reform Plan allowing the County Executive to appoint a commissioner to run a type of recovery program for public schools.


MADISON - In a long debate Tuesday night, legislative Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) proposed an extreme plan for dismantling the public education system in Wisconsin. Finally, at about 1:30 in the morning Wednesday, the omnibus education motion came to the JFC. There it passed 12-4 on a party line vote just as it would have before the debate.

The Republican plan comes straight out of Gov. Scott Walker's campaign rhetoric. While the plan does include some additional K-12 public school funding, it also expands both Racine and the statewide school choice programs with an enrollment cap of one percent per district until total enrollment is 10 percent higher than it is now.

In a further slap at Milwaukee Public Schools, it creates the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP) in which County Executive Chris Abele appoints a commissioner to run a type of privatized recovery program for public schools. The commissioner would select one to three schools in the first few years and up to five schools starting in 2017 to be handed over to the OSPP program. The program would select an operator, public or private, to run the selected schools. Existing staff at these schools would have to reapply for employment and the commissioner would have discretion over employment at the schools.

According to the right wing MacIver Institute, "JFC Republicans introduced the package to deal with the entire K-12 education agenda in one fell swoop."

peter_barcaAccording to Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) in a statement released this morning:

"Last night, legislative Republicans proposed an extreme plan for dismantling our public education system that not only harms education – it also undermines the will of voters. As part of an extreme budget proposal, Republicans will drastically change the system of educating children with disabilities without even holding a public hearing to shovel more funds to the private voucher school community. Overall, the net effect of the changes is the millionaires who fund Republican campaigns were popping champagne corks celebrating their great fortune last night.

“This Republican plan further defunds public schools and destroys local control. The taxpayers of Racine certainly did not ask for 12 Republican legislators to dismantle their way of electing their local, democratically created school board. And that sort of disrespect and knee-capping of local control will be happening in communities across Wisconsin. It is clear this Republican education budget is not meant to serve our Wisconsin communities and values – it is meant to curry favor with Republican presidential primary voters and out-of-state special interest groups that bankroll legislative Republican campaigns.

“So-called ‘Opportunity Schools and Partnership Programs’ were not requested by Milwaukee or any of the other large cities that could be affected, no hearings were held and the effects could be devastating to our large school districts.

“Republicans continue to mislead the people of Wisconsin by claiming they have made schools ‘whole’ while they are only funding one element of our school formula and draining public schools of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars they are giving to private schools. The Republican end goal to allow unlimited taxpayer dollars to go to private schools signals the end of public education as we know it in this state.

“There are so many bad aspects of this Republican education budget, but I am especially appalled by their creation of a special education voucher system that takes additional money out of public schools and leaves parents and special needs students with no resources or rights. It is clear that by not requiring services for children with severe needs or complicated medical issues that this burden will still fall upon public schools. It is the height of arrogance to add an entirely new approach to educating children with disabilities without so much as a public hearing to allow educators an opportunity to offer their insights.

“Republicans’ arrogance of power knows no bounds and their disrespect of the citizens of this state to undermine local control and make dramatic and even radical changes to education late in the night without any notice, hearings or consultation with the communities they disrupt is a terrible abuse of power.”

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It's Time to End the Scandals at WEDC

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Tuesday, 19 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walkerNew questions about a $500,000 loan granted by Gov. Scott Walker's troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to a donor follow allegations that nearly $585 million of the $975 million in taxpayer assistance provided by WEDC went to companies that had contributed to Walker’s campaign.


MADISON - Over the weekend, the Wisconsin State Journal broke another story about Gov. Scott Walker's troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). This time, it appears that WEDC may have granted at least one loan totaling $500,000 as a favor to one of the governor’s campaign contributors.

The State Journal reported that Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides and a powerful lobbyist pressed in 2011 to award a $500,000 unsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency. The taxpayer-funded loan eventually lost the state half a million dollars, created no jobs and raised questions about where the money went.

This recent revelation follows allegations that nearly $585 million of the $975 million in taxpayer assistance provided by WEDC went to companies that had contributed to Governor Walker’s campaign either directly or indirectly.

Equally troubling was the recent audit that found that staff at WEDC ignored both WEDC policy and state law while providing taxpayer assistance to companies under questionable circumstances. A number of companies actually outsourced Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries after receiving taxpayer assistance that were supposed to be used to create jobs here in Wisconsin.

dave_hansenSenator Dave Hansen (D - Green Bay) has been a consistent critic of the Governor's use of the WEDC as the State's primary economic development tool since 2011.

According to Hansen  “Recent news stories concerning the approval of a $500,000 loan from WEDC to a wealthy donor of the Governor serves to confirm what we have been saying for years, that WEDC is a failed model for economic development that is ripe for corruption."

“Unfortunately those of us who said that WEDC was a failed model from the start have seen our prediction come true. After wasting millions of taxpayer dollars amid numerous scandals and changes in staff, it is time to admit that the WEDC model is a failure and scrap it in favor of a more open and transparent model that is truly accountable to the taxpayers," Hansen added.

Short of closing down WEDC the Governor should clean house from top to bottom, put in place stronger methods of accountability that hold all company officers accountable for failing to repay taxpayer loans or create Wisconsin jobs, and close the loopholes that allow taxpayer dollars to be used by companies that outsource Wisconsin jobs.

Or maybe, as Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D - Alma) argued recently, we should just go back the a Department of Commerce.

Hansen's conclusion: "With Wisconsin’s economy still continuing to lag our neighbors and the nation we can no longer afford the kind of failure that WEDC has become synonymous with.”

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Audit Affirms Complaints, Satisfaction with Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
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on Monday, 18 May 2015
in Wisconsin

paratransit-vehicleSen. Kathleen Vinehout writes about the recently released audit of the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program, used by many in Wisconsin for rides to medical appointments.


MADISON - Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs.

People complained drivers didn’t show up, rides were late, drivers didn’t arrive for the return trip home and – at least in one case – the heater did not work in a van taking an elderly woman for her dialysis appointment.

Often patients were told no drivers were available. But local transportation companies told me they were not getting enough business. Local drivers thought the St. Louis-based contractor, Medical Transportation Management, Inc. (MTM) favored a few large companies over small local ones. MTM is the statewide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation ‘broker’ the state hired to arrange rides for eligible patients.

Complaints about poor service helped my colleagues and I convince other legislators to approve a full investigation of the program.

Over 300 people called the Legislative Audit Bureau’s (LAB) hotline to share their complaints. These calls and over 50 interviews conducted by LAB staff were used to analyze problems with the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program. In addition, a survey was sent to 5,000 patients and their families. Also 311 transportation providers completed an internet-based survey.

The results of the year-long investigation are now in.

The new LAB report shows evidence of late rides, drivers’ failure to pick up people for their return ride home and the tendency of MTM to choose a few large transportation companies over smaller, local companies.

Despite problems, of the 773 riders who responded to the questionnaire, almost 87% were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience.

During the audit study period (August 2013 through June 2014), MTM provided 2.3 million trips and, by its own standard, estimated 99.6% of these trips were complaint free.

The LAB reviewed 12,748 complaints filed with MTM. Two-thirds of the time the company did not provide patients timely updates on their investigation of complaints.

The most common substantiated complaint was that the patient had to reschedule a trip because the driver never arrived. Second most common was the driver was late.

Analysis by auditors showed problems, particularly in rural areas, with no vehicles available to transport patients.

A majority of transportation providers surveyed reported they were dissatisfied with MTM’s trip scheduling, poor trip volume and poor compensation.

Drivers complained they were given a request for a ride after the time and date of the appointment. Since drivers were penalized for late rides, this led to time and energy spent by the provider to correct MTM’s mistake.

The audit also provided unexpected insight into a significant cost of drug abuse – in this case transporting recovering patients to treatment for addiction. Trips to drug treatment programs accounted for almost a quarter of the cost of services paid to providers during the audit period. In addition, 91 of the top 100 high cost patients had at least one drug addiction treatment visit.

Auditors mentioned that the lack of drug treatment services in rural areas contributed to high costs. In one case an individual made 540 trips between Ashland County and Eau Claire for treatment. In another case, an individual traveled 321 times between Polk County and Eau Claire. Recently enacted legislation to create new treatment programs in underserved and rural areas should help bring down future transportation costs.

Auditors found there was clearly a difference in patient satisfaction levels measured through an independent survey and the complaint rate of patients directly to MTM. These findings suggest a future independent survey could provide a more accurate perspective in determining actual patient satisfaction.

Nearly all complaints I heard leading up to this audit were verified by auditors. At the same time, most patients were satisfied with the ride service they received.

Some state programs might be pleased with such high satisfaction. But given the seriousness of the patients’ conditions – needing renal dialysis for example – it makes sense that we should hold MTM to a very high standard.

As Representative Peter Barca testified at the hearing that began this audit process, “When people are in the most sensitive period of their life, we must ensure they receive services and are treated with respect and dignity.”

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A Budget Full of Deficits

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
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on Saturday, 16 May 2015
in Wisconsin

capitol-dome-mdsnThere are at least four different deficits in the state budget that is working its way through Wisconsin's legislature. Wisconsin is lagging the nation in so many respects. All these deficits certainly aren’t going to help matters any.


MADISON - Wisconsin lawmakers started the process of building a new state budget in a substantial hole. They insisted their predecessors dug it, but in truth the hole was of their own making. When they are done, the books will be made to appear balanced on the surface for the time being, even though a sizeable underlying “structural deficit” will remain.

The ongoing inability or unwillingness of budget writers to truly put our state government in the position of taking in as much as it spends is a significant problem, but it represents only one of the budget deficits we will have in Wisconsin.

In addition to leaving a financial deficit, the proposed budget as it stands now suffers from a common sense deficit as well. It not only continues to fund state programs that are not working, it throws good money after bad by expanding those failing programs. The private school voucher program has been around for a quarter-century now, and has never delivered on its promises. After more than two decades the program has not boosted student achievement as its supporters said it would. Voucher students do no better than public school students, and by some measures they do worse. Yet this budget takes more money away from public schools to fund further expansion of the voucher program.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation established back in 2011 has been a train wreck since its inception. But despite fresh evidence that WEDC is playing fast and loose with taxpayer money but is unable to document that its actions produce much of any actual economic development, the budget includes a $55 million increase in state funding for the agency.

There also is a pronounced common good deficit in this budget. It seeks to privatize pretty much everything, from human services and state parks to local schools and the state university system. It does this despite the fact that human services experts in other states and local communities across the country “are finding that turning over these programs to private contractors not only fails to achieve projected cost savings but also decreases access to these important services,” according to the watchdog group In the Public Interest. If approved as written, the budget will make parks more expensive to the public and will likely discourage tourism. Top business leaders warn the planned cuts to the university system will hurt Wisconsin’s economy.

Among the many deficits in this budget is a distinct vision deficit. Instead of working to make higher education as affordable for future generations as past generations made it for us, lawmakers have confined themselves to debating only whether college spending should be cut by a little or a lot and whether student tuition should be kept at its stratospherically high current levels or allowed to go up even more. No thought is being given to closing the digital divide, which is critical especially to rural development and a key to dealing with growing inequality. Lawmakers aren’t even showing any interest in thinking creatively about how to avoid deep cuts without raising taxes.

Wisconsin is lagging the nation in so many respects, as our neighbors to the west never hesitate to remind us. All these deficits certainly aren’t going to help matters any.

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After Years of Cuts, Schools Deserve a Raise

Posted by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District
Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District
Jennifer Shilling serves as the Senate Democratic Leader and represents the 32nd
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on Friday, 15 May 2015
in Wisconsin

middle-school-studentsMADISON - Imagine you took a pay cut each of the last four years. Now suppose you were pulled into your boss’s office and told that you wouldn’t get a raise this year, even though the company is growing and seeing record profits. Would that seem fair?

Well, that’s the position our local schools are in after years of historic cuts. Despite spending billions more, the current Republican budget continues to roll back state funding for our schools to 2010 levels.

While avoiding another round of cuts is certainly important, is that really a victory? Should we be satisfied with the broken status quo of school funding that forces communities across our state to go to referendum year after year?

Democrats believe that education must be our top budget priority. That means putting the needs of children and our schools ahead of tax breaks for the wealthy and giveaways to special interests.

We know the funding is available. It has been for years. But Republicans made the decision to prioritize tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy while forcing our schools to do more with less.

To fully restore the cuts our schools have seen over the past four years, we need to invest an additional $200 per student above what Gov. Walker and Republicans have proposed. In the grand scheme of multi-billion dollar special interest tax giveaways, surely we can find $200 per student.

If budgets are about priorities, it’s time we invest in our children first and give them the same shot at the American Dream that our parents handed down to us.

Let’s not settle for the broken status quo. Let’s invest in our state and make our schools a shining beacon of opportunity for Wisconsin’s children once again.

On Tuesday, the Legislature will be voting on whether or not to restore the historic funding cuts to our local schools. I encourage everyone to contact your legislative representatives toll-free at 1-800-362-9472 and urge them to support our children by voting for a $200 per pupil increase in school funding.

Anything less than that amount continues the troubling trend of chronic underfunding that has forced larger class sizes, more local referendums and higher property taxes.

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Republicans Block Student Loan Reform

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 13 May 2015
in Wisconsin

joint-finance-statebud800,000 Wisconsin residents carry on average nearly $30,000 in student loans. Republicans more concerned with helping their corporate friends than average families.


MADISON - Republicans who control the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee blocked passage of an amendment that would have made it possible for thousands of Wisconsin residents to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates.

dave_hansen“It is unfortunate that Republicans controlling the Joint Finance Committee chose to protect the profits of big banks on Wall Street than the financial health of thousands of Wisconsinites who could save real money if they were able to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates,” said senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), author of the Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill that would create a student loan refinancing program.

Currently 815,000 Wisconsin residents carry nearly $20 billion in student loan debt with an average student loan debt of $28,000. Research shows that young people with student loan debt are less likely to buy a home or new car while older people with student loan debt are less likely to be able to send their children to college or save for their own retirement.

“We had a chance today to help thousands of people refinance their student loans to lower their cost like you can already do for a home or auto loan. Helping them lower their interest rates makes it possible for them to buy new homes and cars and help grow our economy. And by doing that we can help stop the “brain drain” too by giving college graduates a very strong incentive to stay here rather than move to another state.”

“Unfortunately, the Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee appear more concerned with helping their corporate friends rather than helping average families.”

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Time to Return to a State Department of Commerce

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
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on Monday, 11 May 2015
in Wisconsin

wis_jobs_nowSen. Kathleen Vinehout writes about the latest audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The Legislative Audit Bureau reports again on the failure of WEDC to follow state law and its own policies when awarding grants, loans and tax credits to businesses and to verify whether or not promised jobs were actually created.


MADISON - “When do we return the economic development initiative and the checkbook to the control of a state agency” John Dunn of Mauston asked in a letter to Legislators. “The WEDC has again failed to follow state law and its own policies in awarding taxpayer-funded incentives to state companies. We need accountability to taxpayers.”

Not following the law, and not acting in a transparent and accountable way is a frequent criticism of the state’s economic development operations.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), created in 2011 as an independent authority, fell under criticism again with the recent release of another audit showing that WEDC failed to follow state laws and its own policies when awarding grants, loans and tax credits to businesses and failed to independently verify whether or not promised jobs were actually created.

In 2013, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) found WEDC did not have policies to oversee, for example, the multi-million-dollar economic development grant and loan programs. In October 2013, WEDC officials reported to our Legislative Audit Committee they had addressed the problem.

But two years later, the new audit found while WEDC established policies, they weren’t following the grant and loan policies. For example, loans can be “forgivable” – meaning they aren’t paid back – only in “extraordinary circumstances”. But the audit found in FY 2013-14 two-thirds of the loans in one program were determined to be “forgivable”. In another case a taxpayer-subsidized loan was “forgiven” to a company unlikely to create full-time jobs – a requirement of the loan program.

Similar circumstances existed in the state’s business tax credit programs. Credits are awarded to companies to offset taxes owed to the state. In some cases tax credits are “refundable” meaning if the company owes less in taxes than the credit, the state “refunds” or sends taxpayer money to the company.

Auditors found examples of officials not following established rules for tax credits, like not determining if the project would happen without the tax credit; awarding credits without determining if the company’s tax liability fell within the law limiting credits to 125% of the companies tax liability; and instances of awards made without required financial information.

State law also requires that a portion of tax credits must go to rural and small businesses. In July 2014, the WEDC board revised its own policies to eliminate this requirement – in direct conflict with the state law.

Several of these problems were a repeat of a previous audit.

In another case WEDC awarded tax credits to an Illinois company under the Jobs Tax Credit program in conflict with state law that required activities funded by this program to occur in Wisconsin. Auditors wrote, “The business would be awarded tax credits in amounts based on the wages they paid to their employees while working in Illinois, and such amount would increase the longer the jobs remained in Illinois.” As of December, Wisconsin awarded two Illinois businesses $53,678 in tax credits.

Enterprise Zone and Jobs Tax Credits are refundable and they cost us a lot. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported the cost of just these two programs was $42 million last year. In another report, the LFB noted that Wisconsin contracted with companies for $352.5 million in tax credits over three years.

Does the substantial state money given to these companies result in any economic activity that would not already exist? This question remains unanswered with the most recent audit.

State law requires WEDC to verify jobs created, retained, and if contractually specified wage requirements are met. A previous audit found WEDC did not conduct verification. This recent audit found that even during site visits to companies, officials failed to review payroll records to independently verify jobs. Without information on wages and jobs, it’s impossible to know if the hundreds of millions in state dollars going to companies accomplished anything.

All of this adds up to one inescapable conclusion: WEDC is a failure. With Wisconsin job growth in the lower third among all states, it is time we reevaluate our state economic development policies. The first step must be putting hundreds of millions in state economic development expenses once again under the accountability and transparency rules of the rest of state government.

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Governor Walker’s Failed Jobs Agency Should be Scrapped

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
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on Monday, 11 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-wedcSTATEWIDE - After the release of yet another devastating state audit showing that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has failed to document that companies receiving grants, tax credits, and loans are actually creating jobs, Governor Walker abruptly announced that he is pulling the plug on his controversial plan to merge the troubled agency with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).

While the cancellation of the proposed merger is welcome news for economic opportunity advocates, it fails to address the fundamental problem. WEDC is not just badly mismanaged, it is a flawed model. The notion that our scarce job creation resources should be doled out to business without real accountability is one of the worst ideas in modern Wisconsin legislative history.

The failure to close loopholes that allow companies receiving WEDC support to outsource Wisconsin jobs is only the tip of the iceberg. Wisconsin job growth has lagged behind the rest of the nation, and even worse the majority of jobs generated have been in low income occupations where poverty wages predominate.

The structure of WEDC itself, which by design has less accountability and transparency than a traditional public agency, raises questions about undue influence, further undermining public’s trust in their own government. In an environment where massive corporate election expenditures have been legalized, the public deserves ironclad guarantees that the process of handing out public economic development dollars is above politics.

The only permanent solution that can restore public confidence is to disband WEDC, and create a fully accountable department. The new department should focus its resources on creating the maximum number of family supporting jobs, not poverty jobs, and should place a special emphasis on areas with the greatest shortage of good jobs. There should be clear publicly known benchmarks for any company receiving assistance, a transparent process fully insulated from political considerations, and clawbacks from companies that fail to create the family supporting jobs that were promised. It should adopt Senator Hansen’s proposal to stop providing funds to companies engaged in outsourcing of jobs. It should also cease WEDC’s failed strategy of wasting money on poaching jobs from neighboring states, rather than investing in new economic opportunity.

Given recent research that shows the WIsconsin middle class has contracted more than any state in the country, it is critical that Wisconsin create an effective public agency that can make real progress on opening opportunity to more Wisconsin families.

“What is good for CEOs is not necessarily good for workers. Handing over our state’s economic policies to multinational corporations engaged in outsourcing and converting middle class jobs into poverty wage jobs is driving Wisconsin’s economy into the ground,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The only way we can halt the decline of the middle class, and expand opportunity to all those who are currently shut out, is to make creating good family supporting jobs the singular purpose of Wisconsin economic policy. No large corporation or CEO has any rightful claim on public dollars, unless they are in turn expanding real economic opportunity for Wisconsin workers.”

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Governor Walker’s WEDC Failure

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Friday, 08 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-no-jobsAudit reveals additional problems at persistently troubled agency. Can Walker continue to evade responsibility?


MADISON – A new audit of Governor Scott Walker’s persistently troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) released this month revealed another round of critical shortcomings.

Statutes require WEDC to develop and implement economic programs that provide support, expertise, and financial assistance to businesses that are investing and creating jobs in Wisconsin, as well as programs that support new business start-ups and business expansion and growth in the state.

Walker has held out the WEDC as the main tool of his administration to promote job development in Wisconsin. He claimed he could grow jobs by 250,000 in his first term. Instead, despite heavy outflows of taxpayer dollars to corporate friends and a huge income tax cut for the wealthy, Wisconsin continues to lag behind neighboring states as the nationwide economic recovery continues.

The Governor continues to claim "Good news for all of us in Wisconsin" with campaign style sunshine columns spread on the opinion pages of local newspapers. But the real record of the WEDC's failure is plain to see.

jennifer-shilling-2014Can Walker continue to evade responsibility? In response to the WEDC audit, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said:

“How many more years of failure do we have to put up with before Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans get serious about fixing the deep-rooted issues with this horribly mismanaged agency? As Chairman of the WEDC, Gov. Walker must accept responsibility for the ongoing financial mismanagement issues and troubling news of tax breaks going to companies who outsource Wisconsin jobs. Instead of dealing with these serious issues, Gov. Walker continues to shirk his responsibilities as he jets around the nation in pursuit of his presidential campaign ambitions.”

The WEDC Audit findings show continued problems with the agency. In summary, they were:

  • WEDC did not consistently follow statutes or its policies when making financial awards.
  • WEDC did not comply with all statutory requirements related to program oversight.
  • Staff did not consistently comply with policies established by WEDC’s governing board.
  • Additional efforts are needed to help ensure that WEDC administers its state-funded programs effectively.

The Governor’s 2015-17 Biennial Budget Proposal would combine WEDC and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) into the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority, a newly created organization that would begin operation on January 1, 2016, and administer economic development programs. That would provide the show of a reorganization, but little change to the underlining problems Walker faces in job development.

A copy of the audit report may be found here.

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Sluggish Revenue Numbers Reflect Irresponsible Republican Budgeting

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Thursday, 07 May 2015
in Wisconsin

scottwalker-dreamMADISON - The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported this week that the state is on track for 3.7 percent growth this year as predicted in January, with no changes expected in the forecast for the next two years. That means the windfall revenue growth Gov. Scott Walker predicted in his re-election campaign last fall will not materialize to offset the $2.2 billion deficit he ran up in his first term.

The disappointing forecast forces the Republican-controlled Legislature to consider alternatives to reduce Walker's proposed budget cuts this year, including accounting moves, increasing borrowing, making other reductions or raising taxes and fees.

peter_barcaAccording to Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), who responded to the latest numbers that predict zero additional state revenue on Wednesday, “These weak revenue projections are another indication of the harm that three rounds of Republican budgeting, as well as their anemic economic development efforts, has done to our state".

While our neighboring states take advantage of an improving national economy and are experiencing large budget surpluses, Wisconsin continues to lag behind due to Republicans’ irresponsible budget choices and their poor economic development policies that have left Wisconsin 40th in the country in job growth. We can do better for the people of Wisconsin to ensure long-term economic prosperity.

Our community schools are hurting from Republicans’ actions and schools will continue to struggle even if Republicans restore their own proposed cuts. Time and again, Republicans have sold out Wisconsin schools and instead chosen massive tax giveaways for the corporate special interests and donors who fund Gov. Walker’s campaigns.

dave-hansen-gbAnd then there is the politically motivated decision by Walker not to accept $345 million in federal Medicaid money. According to Sen. Dave Hansen (D - Green Bay), “The recent revenue numbers from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau confirm what many of us have been saying for some time now. It is time to put partisan politics and ambitions aside and reclaim $345 million of our federal tax dollars to strengthen BadgerCare and avoid unnecessary cuts to our schools and UW campuses.”

Perhaps Sen. Barca has the best conclusion, “The sad truth is that Gov. Walker’s presidential ambitions – which are being carried out by Republicans in the legislature – will harm Wisconsin communities for years to come.”

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New Revenue Numbers Reveal Absurdity of Turning Down Enhanced BadgerCare Dollars

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
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on Thursday, 07 May 2015
in Wisconsin

STATEWIDE - Now that the new revenue estimates released earlier this week have failed to produce any budget saving unicorns, attention should shift to the $345 million Governor Walker is leaving on the table by rejecting enhanced federal funding for BadgerCare.

5health_f1.The map at right provided by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities shows just how isolated Wisconsin is in rejecting this money.  Wisconsin is the only state in the entire Great Lakes region to turn down these critically important federal dollars.

As Citizen Action of Wisconsin explained earlier this week, because Governor’s Walker’s economic policies is generating mostly poverty-wage jobs, the cost of rejecting the BadgerCare money is increasing. One of the reasons that revenue estimates are slightly down is that the Governor’s policies are driving down wages in both the public and the private sector.

“This week’s revenue numbers should be a wake up call to Legislators to revisit Governor Walker’s damaging decision to rejected enhanced federal dollars for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin cannot afford to needlessly leave tens of thousands of citizens without affordable health care, and in the process force massive cuts to critical investments in economic opportunity such as funding for our schools, technical colleges, and universities.”

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No New Revenue for State Budget a Problem for Republicans

Posted by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson (D) is the Wisconsin State Senator from the 7th District in Milwauk
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on Thursday, 07 May 2015
in Wisconsin

madison_capitolRepublicans need to look past ideology and work with Democrats to fix Wisconsin’s budget crisis.


MADISON - On Wednesday, a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau indicated that, despite promises of windfalls, there will be no new revenue to salvage Walker’s sinking economy.

Despite a national growing economy nationally and significant revenue growth in neighboring Midwestern states like Minnesota, which is expecting a $2 billion surplus, Wisconsin continues to fall further behind because of extreme GOP policies. Instead, they have created a self-inflicted $2.2 billion deficit.

Instead of focusing on Wisconsin’s traditional shared values over the past five years, currently the Republicans in power have been consumed with historic slashes to education funding and denying our neighbors access to basic health services and family-supporting jobs, while at the same time widening tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations.

On one hand, Minnesota is flush with cash and reaping the benefits because they have invested in their public schools, raised wages for families, and expanded access to affordable health care. On the other hand, Republicans in Wisconsin have been busy selling out our state to the lowest bidder.

Now is the time for a course correction. Governor Walker must put his personal ambitions on hold and Republicans in the legislature must look past their extreme ideology and work with Democrats to start investing in pro-growth policies that represent the shared values of the state and our citizens to get us out of this budget crisis.

We can do this by moving forward with accepting the federal Medicaid expansion and by pausing the costly Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit.

It is time to end the regressive era in Wisconsin politics and get the state moving forward again.

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GOP Lawmakers Pushing Bill to Repeal the State Prevailing Wage Law

Posted by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson (D) is the Wisconsin State Senator from the 7th District in Milwauk
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on Wednesday, 06 May 2015
in Wisconsin

rtw-hearingRepublicans push for lower pay and less skill for Wisconsin workers and their families.


MADISON - On Tuesday, Republican leaders in the Wisconsin legislature held a hearing on the repeal of our prevailing wage law.

After hours of testimony, it is crystal clear Wisconsin workers and businesses do not support dismantling yet another protection for Wisconsin’s middle class, our prevailing wage law, which has been critical in creating a top-notch construction industry in our state since the 1930s. This system is effective in delivering quality work, by a well-trained Wisconsin workforce, at a price that is mindful of our shared, public investments.

Hardworking Wisconsinites are already struggling under the failed policies of the governor and his Republican allies in the Legislature. Recently, it was unveiled that Wisconsin ranks the worst among all 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class. Instead of facing this reality, we are talking about repealing a law that helps ensure jobs go to local workers whose families shop in local businesses, thus strengthening local communities. At the same time, just down the hall from the hearing, legislators on the Joint Finance Committee are discussing a budget that spends and borrows more money than at any point in state history.

In addition to workers, we heard from an expert who has studied the construction industry for over 20 years, Dr. Peter Philips. Dr. Philip’s posed a crucial question to lawmakers: ‘Do you want this to be a high-wage, high-skill industry or a low-wage, low-skill industry?’

The facts from other states show, repealing prevailing wage will drive down wages, promote the outsourcing of workers, lower productivity levels, decrease workplace safety, and restrict access to health care. It will ultimately prevent people from being part of the middle class and reaching the American Dream – an already increasingly rare commodity in our state.

Prevailing wage laws ensure we have well-trained, skilled workers, who give the taxpayers the best deal by doing high-quality work, efficiently. In fact, under the prevailing wage law, Wisconsin is the third most productive in the country and even the best in the Midwest in terms of our workers getting things done right and on time. Pulling prevailing wage out by the roots is morally and economically the wrong direction for Wisconsin. As one person who testified put it: ‘this is the kind of bill that will make those who build our bridges, end up living underneath them.’

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Genrich Calls for Sensible Approach to School Testing

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 06 May 2015
in Wisconsin

students-testingBipartisan effort by Wisconsin Legislators seeks to lessen burden on students and teachers.


GREEN BAY - On Tuesday, State Representative Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay), along with a bipartisan group of 23 Wisconsin legislators, sent a letter to the Wisconsin Congressional delegation urging their support for legislation to eliminate annual federal testing requirements.

The Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act, introduced by Sen. Tester (D-Montana) in the Senate and Rep. Sinema (AZ-9) and Gibson (NY-19) in the House, replaces the current provision in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that requires every public school child to sit for an annual test in grades 3-8 and once in high school with one that instead requires testing in three grade spans: elementary, middle and high school.

eric-genrich"The current federally-required testing regime reduces instructional time, sidelines creativity in the classroom, and has not proved to be successful in the effort to improve academic success," said Genrich. "This legislation allows teachers to place more of the focus where it belongs: on classroom teaching and learning."

As the Congress moves to reauthorize the ESEA, a diverse set of lawmakers and advocates have stepped forward to support efforts to remove the burdensome annual federal testing requirements and empower local teachers and school boards to determine educational priorities.

Genrich continued, “Now is the right time to acknowledge that annual standardized tests do not drive student success. While we face an uphill battle in the fight to reduce unnecessary testing in our classrooms, I am encouraged by this bipartisan recognition of the need to free our students and teachers from a system of testing that has failed them.”

The U.S. Senate is anticipated to begin its floor debate on ESEA reauthorization later this month. Sen. Tester has pledged to offer his legislation as an amendment at that time.

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Growth of Poverty Wage Jobs Makes Rejection of BadgerCare Dollars a Fiscal Threat

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
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on Tuesday, 05 May 2015
in Wisconsin

wi_madison_poverty-jobsSTATEWIDE - The combination of the growing number of poverty wage jobs that do not provide health benefits and Governor Walker’s decision to reject federal dollars for BadgerCare are already having a major fiscal impact on the state budget, which will grow worse for the foreseeable future.

The number of Wisconsin workers eligible for BadgerCare and who work for large poverty wage employers has increased by 8% over the last year, according to data released last week by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Highly profitable corporations such as Walmart, McDonald’s, Kwik Trip and Target now have more employees on BadgerCare than they did in 2013. New federal data released last week shows that Medicaid enrollment in Wisconsin has increased more than 6.8% over the last year.

One of the main drivers increasing BadgerCare enrollment is the failure of Wisconsin’s economic development policies to produce family supporting jobs which include health benefits. Nine of the top ten occupations with job openings in Wisconsin have low or very low wages and benefits. The two fastest growing occupations in Wisconsin are retail and fast food jobs. Recent reports from the UW-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty and the UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development confirm that poverty wage jobs are the major source of job growth in Wisconsin, and that poverty continues to increase even as more of these jobs are created.

The disturbing growth in poverty wage jobs is making the fiscal impact of Governor Walker’s decision to reject enhanced federal dollars for BadgerCare even worse. This is because Wisconsin is needlessly paying 40 cents on the dollar for many BadgerCare enrollees who could be entirely paid for with federal dollars. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates each individual on BadgerCare not covered with the enhanced federal funding Walker rejected costs Wisconsin $4,596 per year. The Fiscal Bureau estimate of the cost of this decision continues to increase. According to the most recent estimate, the decision to reject enhanced federal Medicaid dollars will cost the state $345 million in the next budget, unless the Legislature reverses it.

“The combination of the failure of Governor Walker’s economic policies to create family supporting jobs and his misguided decision to reject federal funds for BadgerCare together are having a major negative impact on the state budget which will grow worse over time,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Governor Walker’s economic, health care, and budget policies are creating a perfect storm of destruction, needlessly denying affordable health care to tens of thousands, shrinking the middle class, and leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that could be used to support education, long term care, and other vital investments needed to expand opportunity.”

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Citizen Input Provides Important Details of Conservation Budget Cuts

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
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on Monday, 04 May 2015
in Wisconsin

wiscdnr-160It can be difficult for legislators to know the full effect of cuts without the critical input of citizens. Senator Kathleen Vinehout writes about how citizen input provided her with details about the effect of cuts in the DNR budget.


MADISON - “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?”

It can be difficult for legislators to know the full effect of cuts without the critical input of citizens.

For example, news of cuts to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made its way to western Wisconsin. Constituents communicated back to me the effect of these cuts. Through emails, phone calls and office visits I was able to piece together the real effect of a few lines of DNR budget cuts.

County conservation staff assists locals in protecting water resources and rehabilitating lost habitat. For example, last summer I was delighted to attend the “opening” of a rehabilitated trout stream in Buffalo County. While only Mother Nature can create a trout stream, a hard-working coalition of people made possible the restoration of habitat to bring spawning trout back to Buffalo County.

There are dozens of best practices farmers can use to protect waterways and keep nutrients where they belong – on the crops. Investing in the assistance farmers need to be good land and water stewards is an investment that will pay off for future generations.

One way to accomplish change in the quality of our waterways is to engage groups of farmers through a process known as farmer-led councils. This water quality enhancement process focuses energy of many community members in a transparent and democratic process. But to be successful, projects need a dedicated coordinator. This role falls to UW Extension staff funded in part through a line in the DNR budget called nonpoint source contracts.

When I first saw this budget line, I imagined contracts to private industry. Only through emails, phone calls, office visits and more phone calls did I realize the full extent of the decision to eliminate these funds. Further, I began to understand the value of farmer-led watershed councils and the important role conservation and extension staff play in coordinating the work of many community groups and levels of government.

Residents of Dunn and Barron Counties are working hard to restore Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake. Restoration efforts are enhanced by the Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership, made up of 14 different groups including businesses, Wisconsin Farmers Union, nonprofits and local residents through their lake association. But without the coordination of UW extension staff, the partnership would not be effective.

I received a letter and office visits from Dunn County Board Chair Steve Rasmussen who told me about the work to “mitigate the pollution of the watershed and algae blooms” in the lakes.

Chair Rasmussen wrote, “Elimination of these two positions would be a major setback in a multi-county/multi-municipality effort to improve the health of the Red Cedar River Watershed…The health of the Red Cedar River is of critical importance to the citizens of Dunn County.”

Later I spoke with Mr. Rasmussen who told me 68% of all pollution in the Red Cedar came from agriculture. Farmer-led initiatives were an effective way to address nonpoint source pollution. Farmers talk with each other. They learn from each other. Sometimes folks will more readily accept new practices if they see their neighbors doing it.

Cutting conservation and extension staff comes at a critical time for the Red Cedar and watersheds across the state. I spoke to a man with intimate knowledge of land and water conservation, Jim VandenBrook, the executive director of Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association. He said “The facts are clear: water quality has progressively gotten worse since the 1990s; Great Lakes Initiative money is disappearing; DNR does not have the staff to do education. We are the educators for DNR.”

In our discussion about the work of the conservation and extension staff Jim noted the watershed partners “are all worried all our work is going by the wayside.”

Indeed. The partners know why we work so hard to protect land and water.

Thank you to all who wrote or called. Your input is critical for Wisconsin’s future. In the words of the ancient proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.

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Hansen Says Governor’s Admission of Outsourcing Problems at WEDC is Not Enough

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Saturday, 02 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-no-jobsMADISON - On Thursday, Governor Scott Walker told WKOW TV 27 Madison that he was open to more sanctions against companies that take state job creation money and then outsource Wisconsin jobs.

This is a major reversal for the Walker, whose administration has repeatedly denied claims by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and others that it is still perfectly legal for companies to outsource and to also receive large grants, loans, and tax credits from the Governor’s jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Walker's admission followed an announcement last Wednesday by Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who said he was drafting an outsourcing accountability bill. Senator Hansen’s bill bans companies who receive public economic development money and then outsource jobs from state aid for a period of five years.

dave-hansen-gbIn a statement released Friday, Sen. Hansen acknowledged Gov. Walker’s admission of outsourcing problems at WEDC. Hansen said:

“It is heartening to hear the Governor admit there are problems with businesses applying for and receiving tax payer assistance from WEDC on the promise they will create jobs here in Wisconsin only to turn around and send Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries or other states."

However, it is clear that Sen. Hansen believes Walker's admission of problems at the WEDC last week is too little, too late for the troubled agency.

"Governor Walker and WEDC officials acknowledged the outsourcing problem last summer yet so far they have made little if any effort to stop it. In addition to paying back the tax dollars they received, businesses that commit this kind of fraud should be banned from receiving any taxpayer assistance for a minimum of five years," Hanson said.

Walker's plan of re-branding WEDC under a new name and merging it with WHEDA will not be enough, says Hansen, to make taxpayers forget about the disaster that WEDC has proven to be or stop the continued use of tax dollars to help companies ship their jobs overseas.

Hansen concludes Walker's plan does not "provide much hope that such a move will solve WEDC’s problems rather than hurt WHEDA. Without fundamental changes that put safeguarding the taxpayer’s money first and foremost the merger between WEDC and WHEDA is bound to fail.”

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Walker Admits Jobs Agency Has Outsourcing Issues

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
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on Friday, 01 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walkerCitizen Action of Wisconsin believes outsourcing scandal shows whole WEDC model is flawed and can only be permanently fixed by scuttling the agency.


STATEWIDE - Yesterday Governor Scott Walker told WKOW TV 27 Madison that he was open to more sanctions against companies that take state job creation money and then outsource Wisconsin jobs.

This is a major reversal for the Walker, whose administration has repeatedly denied Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s contention that it is still perfectly legal for companies to outsource and to also receive large grants, loans, and tax credits from the Governor’s jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporations (WEDC). In October, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that WEDC officials refused to respond to Citizen Action’s contention. WEDC also refused to respond to similar questions from the Shepherd Express.

Wednesday Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) announced he was drafting an outsourcing accountability bill. Senator Hansen’s bill bans companies who receive public economic development money and then outsource jobs from state aid for a period of five years. Hansen’s bill follows revelations first reported by WKOW TV Madison that a multinational corporation, Eaton Corp., receiving state economic development support is outsourcing Wisconsin jobs to Mexico for a second time.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin believes that the outsourcing scandal demonstrates that the entire WEDC model is hopelessly flawed and can only be permanently fixed by scuttling the agency.

“The outsourcing scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. That state aid to corporations engaged in undermining Wisconsin workers is even possible debunks Governor Walker’s whole idea that precious state job creation dollars should be doled out by an unaccountable semi-public agency like WEDC,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The best solution to the failure of the WEDC model is to disband it, and create a fully accountable public agency which focuses investments like a laser beam on creating family supporting jobs, not merely doling out money to multinational corporations who are selling out Wisconsin workers.”

Reporting by the Milwaukee Business Journal sheds further light on WEDC’s shobby outsourcing standards. WEDC officials have claimed that performance standards assure that companies receiving state assistance are adding jobs to the economy, even if they are also engaged in outsourcing. However, business reporter Tom Held found that Eaton received nearly $370,000  in WEDC tax credits to create 25 jobs and to retain 150 jobs. They then turned around and outsourced 93 jobs to Mexico, a net loss of 68 jobs in Wisconsin.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin also argues that preventing the merger of WEDC with another public authority simply leaves the present failed system in place.

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Hansen to Introduce Legislation Banning State Taxpayer Money to Companies That Outsource Jobs

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 29 April 2015
in Wisconsin

dave-hansen-gbGreen Bay's Senator is drafting legislation to ban companies that outsource jobs from receiving taxpayer assistance for five years. Recent news reports show outsourcing continues while number of delinquent loans has tripled.


MADISON - State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) announced today that he is drafting legislation to ban companies from receiving taxpayer assistance for five years if they are found to have outsourced jobs from Wisconsin after receiving state aid.

“We are seeing all too often under WEDC cases where companies have received help from state taxpayers for the purpose of creating jobs only to send Wisconsin jobs out of state or overseas while state officials appear to ignore it or look the other way,” said Hansen.

Corporations taking state tax dollars intended for job creation only to layoff Wisconsin workers in favor of lower cost labor in other countries are becoming an increasing problem. According to Channel 27 News in Madison outsourcing by Eaton Corporation is just the latest example:

“A global power systems management corporation that has received nearly $370,000 in tax incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) since 2012 is shipping jobs from Wisconsin to Mexico for the second time in three years.

Eaton Corp. announced last week it is permanently discontinuing the manufacture ofprinted circuit boards at its facility in Watertown, which will result in the elimination of 93 employees there.”

“When a corporation promises to create jobs here in order to receive $370,000 in taxpayer money and then actually eliminates jobs here and sends them to a foreign country one can only assume there is no fear they will be held accountable for their actions,” said Hansen.

Under Hansen’s bill any company that is found to have outsourced jobs from Wisconsin after receiving taxpayer funded assistance would be banned from applying for future taxpayer help for five years.

According to Hansen: “Protecting Wisconsin jobs requires more than lip service. There needs to be consequences for taking taxpayer money on the promise that you’re going to create jobs and then do the opposite. If we are going to hold people on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder accountable when they do not fulfill the responsibilities required of them to receive taxpayer help we should hold those at the top accountable as well.”

Governor Walker’s administration continues to struggle to meet his promise of creating 250,000 jobs amid reports that Wisconsin has fall to 38th in the nation for job creation and Wisconsin is on track to see its highest number of layoffs since Governor Walker first took office in 2011.

“Given the dismal performance of this administration you might think they would be taking a tougher stand on outsourcing. But given this latest report it appears to be business as usual—corporations taking taxpayer dollars while giving their jobs to foreign countries,” Hansen concludes.

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