November 1, 2014

WEDC gets $25 million in tax credits

A legislative committee has approved an additional $25 million in tax credits, for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. It was the first meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance, since Democrats regained control of the state Senate, and it appeared initially that the appearance by WEDC CEO Paul Jadin might turn contentious.

That wasn’t because of anything that Jadin, a former Green Bay mayor, was expected to say, but because of the partisan differences on the panel. “I’m proud that you’re here today, especially after all the hullabaloo by the other side of the aisle, where they demanded that you appear, and that they wouldn’t let the money go through for job for jobs tax credits unless you appeared before the committee,” said JFC cochairman, state Representative Robin Vos.

“I am glad . . . that the secretary is here, not so I can make some strident, partisan, vitriolic remark,” said Democratic state Senator Bob Jauch. “We can focus as a legislature, on a bipartisan basis, on an issue that we care about, and on a tax credit program that will deserve some careful scrutiny.”

Jauch, questioning Jadin, said that “at some point, I would hope the legislature would want to have an honest conversation, as to what degree this program actually stimulates job creation, rather than rewarding job creation.” Jadin conceded that the difference between those two outcomes is sometimes difficult to determine. “There are many situations where there’s a very fine between, are we simply maximizing your profit, or are we indeed the reason you’re creating jobs,” he said. adding that that’s something that “will forever be a burden” for organizations such as the WEDC.

Legislation establishing the WEDC, a public-private partnership, was approved created by the Republican-controlled legislature last year. The special session legislation received scant Democratic support at the time – just two votes in the Senate and one in the Assembly.