At last, Wisconsin has a venture capital fund. The bill, including a minor amendment passed in committed, received bipartisan support. Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) was one of two Democrats to vote against it in that chamber on Tuesday. “I just don’t want to throw the money on the table,” said Lehman. “I don’t want to gamble that 25 million dollars. To have this bill without a jobs focus is just something I cannot support in any way.”
“It is really disappointing that 25 million dollars is the best that we can do,” said Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point). “We don’t have the perfect bill before us,” said Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). “I’m going to vote for it. Absolutely I’m not crazy about it. I would have preferred a stronger emphasis on jobs.”
“Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good,” said Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Janesville). “It’s the best that we can get done today.” In the end, only Lehman, Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Senator Glenn Grotham (R-West Bend) voted no the package. The Assembly concurred, so the bill is now ready for Governor Scott Walker to sign it into law.
“I look forward to signing it,” Walker said Tuesday. “This is one more way that we move our economy forward.” The bill sets up a “fund of funds” using $25 million in taxpayer funding and at least $50 million from the private sector. The money will target companies in five key areas: agriculture, information technology, engineering, advanced manufacturing, and medical devices.
In other action on Tuesday, the Senate voted unanimously to approved a package of reforms for the Wisconsin Economic Development Agency.