It will be September before an audit of Wisconsin’s troubled economic development agency goes before a state committee. The most recent critical audit of Wisconsin Economic Development Authority was released back in May.
“The fact that the Joint Audit Committee has now finally decided it’s going to meet, months after the audit was released, I think is really doing a disservice to taxpayers,” said state Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) who serves on the WEDC Board of Directors.
“We scheduled it as soon as we could get a majority of the committee members there,” said state Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), who serves as co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. “It’s an important audit, and we don’t want to do it with just the two co-chairs. We want to get as many people there as possible.”
The joint committee will meet on September 2 to review the findings of the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. The May report found that WEDC continues to have problems complying with a number of state laws and regulations. The audit, based on a review of more than 100 awards made by WEDC during the 2013-14 fiscal year, found the public-private agency failed to include provisions in grants and loans that contractually require recipients to submit information proving they created and retained jobs.
“The audit was pretty critical,” Cowles acknowledged. “Even though there was some progress from the previous year, a lot more progress needs to be made.”
The LAB also discovered that “WEDC did not establish all statutorily required policies for its tax credit programs, did not consistently evaluate whether businesses met all eligibility requirements in its tax credit policies, and allocated tax credits in ways that did not consistently comply with statutes and its policies.”
“It’s just amazing to me that this agency is still having such difficulty following state law, as well as the policies that were approved by the board of directors,” said Lassa.