DFL48 | Restoring Common Sense Minnesota Values



DNC Research Director Lauren Dillon on Medium: Something’s Rotten in Madison

Rotten in MadisonI’m going to tell you a story about a mismanaged agency within Wisconsin’s government.

Still awake?

You should be. The details of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation start with Scott Walker’s failure to deliver on his jobs promise, and end with loans and tax credits going out to his political donors. And here’s why that matters. 

The Beginning

Scott Walker campaigned in 2010 on the notion that he’d create 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of his first term in 2015.

To meet that goal, he created the WEDC, which he claimed would play an integral role in keeping that promise.

“Our number one priority is to create an environment that allows the private sector to get 250,000 people back to work by 2015. The WEDC will play an integral role in achieving this goal.” — Walker

The WEDC would give out loans to hundreds of companies in the hopes of spurring growth, but that growth never came, and the agency quickly devolved into a mismanaged mess.

The Wheels Fall Off

Things went south quickly. The WEDC missed its goals in 2012, and missed its goals for helping businesses in over half of its economic development programs in FY13. In fact, one agency in Wisconsin found that WEDC was so poorly run that it was impossible to determine how many jobs it created. 

This raised a number of flags for auditing agencies and the public at large. First, there was the mismanagement. WEDC staff used taxpayer funds to pay for iPads, alcohol, and football season tickets.

On top of all of this, the WEDC lost track of $69 million in funds loaned out to companies. Eventually, it was revealed that Walker’s WEDC gave financial assistance to ineligible projects, companies with known financial issues, and even companies who made it clear from the start they were planning to lay off Wisconsin workers.

At least six companies that received substantial awards from the WEDC laid off Wisconsin workers and sent their jobs overseas.

As of the beginning of his second term, Scott Walker fell 120,869 jobs — 48 percent — short of his promise.

Click here to read the rest of this Medium post.

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