A legislative budget panel approves one of Governor Walker’s economy-boosting proposals.
The Joint Finance Committee votes 12-to-2 to convert the state Commerce Department into a private-public hybrid that would focus on job creation. The new entity is called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) stresses the status quo is not working. “And we’re at a crisis level in terms of unemployment numbers … what this is doing is it’s doing something different than we’ve been doing.”
Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) says 60 percent of the commerce budget is spent on rules and regulations, and less than 20 percent on actual economic development. He says more effort needs to be put into job creation.
Critics of the overhaul say the bill lacks details and the entity needs transparency and accountability. Committee members make several modifications to the bill, including requiring regular audits by the Legislative Audit Bureau.
Representative Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) votes against the bill. “I don’t really feel comfortable supporting this today just because I think it needs a little bit more time. There are still a lot of questions.”
Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) also votes no.
The Joint Committee on Finance held an executive session on Monday discussing the creation of the new agency and making appropriations.