The governor is backing a bill that would make it a felony to provide false information to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The legislation being considered at the Capitol would create stiff penalties for business owners who lie on applications for state grants or loans could face stiff penalties. Anyone caught presenting false information could face up to 15 years in prison, while their business could be barred from receiving state aid for up to seven years.
Speaking in Madison Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker said businesses should not be allowed to get away with lying on their applications when seeking financial help from the state. “If people give out fraudulent information, there should be consequences,” Walker said.
The legislation was prompted by at least two cases involving individuals who lied on applications to WEDC while applying for assistance. During a hearing on the bill this week, state Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), a co-sponsor of the bill, said that resulted in more than $1.5 million being taken from taxpayers that could have been spent on other programs that would have actually created jobs. “Any fraud against the taxpayer is significant, but these types of cases can cost taxpayers literally millions of dollars with one stroke of the pen,” he argued.
A legislative committee is currently considering the bill.