Governor Holds Emergency WEDC Meeting

By Patrick Lynn

Gov. Scott Walker has scheduled an emergency meeting of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) for Wednesday in response to a scathing audit released last week which outline serious problems at the state’s job creation agency.

Walker said he wants to discuss in detail the new nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s report, which found the agency repeatedly failed to follow state laws, didn’t track loans and awarded money to ineligible projects, among other things.

Walker said many of the problems cited by the audit have already been resolved or are in the process of being resolved.

“I and the other board members would like a chance to comprehensively spend a meeting on nothing else except this issue, and to go through and really — for the board, but also the public, to see — what has been done, what hasn’t been done, and what the plan is,” Walker said.

The meeting comes one day before the Legislature’s budget committee is scheduled to consider Walker’s budget proposals for WEDC, major funding for additional marketing activities, including $3.75 million of state money in 2013-14 and $7.15 million in 2014-15, as well as $6 million for economic development programs known only as “seed accelerator” and “capital catalyst” programs.

Some Democrats have called for the vote to be postponed until audit issues can be addressed.

Democratic Sen. Julie Lassa from Stevens Point and Assembly Democratic leader Rep. Peter Barca from Kenosha are also members of the WEDC board. They say immediate action needs to be taken to improve the quasi-governmental agency Walker and Republicans created in 2011.