April 24, 2014

New oversight proposed for WEDC

Lawmakers on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee have approved strict reporting requirements for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Those include holding back nearly $63 million in funding over the next two years, unless the agency can prove it’s making effective reforms.

The move follows a recent audit that showed the agency broke state laws and failed to track loans and grants given out to business for job creation.

JFC co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says Thursday’s action will keep money in the state’s coffers, until WEDC comes back and proves “point, by point, by point what they have changed.”

AUDIO: Sen. Alberta Darling (:10)

Democrats on the panel had pushed for stopping all new funding. State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) argued the agency should be forced to go back and show how state dollars have been used so far and questioned how Republicans could propose “spending another nickel on WEDC, until we know that it works.”

AUDIO: Rep. Cory Mason (:10)

However, State Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) said the strict controls put in place by the committee will provide the oversight to show that’s happening, and basically say “this agency could be gone in a year, if they don’t step up and continue to improve.”

The oversight language was added to the state budget by the committee, and will still require the full approval of the Legislature and Governor Walker.