Walker’s Jobs Agency Reforms Only Scratch the Surface

Statewide: Reeling from the mounting criticism of his failed jobs agency, Governor Scott Walker is proposing surface reforms which do not address its core problems. Walker proposes ending the business loan program at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and shifting resources to tax incentives. However, both the tax incentive and loan programs were criticized in a scathing state audit. Also over the weekend the Wisconsin State Journal reported a large questionable unsecured loan to a firm whose owner made a large contribution to Governor Walker’s election campaign. The loan was not repaid.

In response, Citizen Action of Wisconsin renewed it’s call to scrap WEDC and create a fully accountable public agency to lead Wisconsin’s job creation efforts. WEDC is not just badly mismanaged, it is a flawed model. The notion that our scarce job creation resources should be doled out to business without real accountability is one of the worst ideas in modern Wisconsin legislative history.

Governor Walker’s continued insistence over the weekend that WEDC is “very successful” flies in the face of both the agency’s operational failures and Wisconsin’s poor performance in creating middle class jobs.  The failure to close loopholes that allow companies receiving WEDC support to outsource Wisconsin jobs is only the tip of the iceberg. Wisconsin job growth has lagged behind the rest of the nation, and even worse the majority of jobs generated have been in low income occupations where poverty wages predominate. Given recent research that shows the Wisconsin middle class has contracted more than any state in the country, it is critical that Wisconsin create an effective public agency that can make real progress on opening opportunity to more Wisconsin families.

“The only permanent solution to the stunning failure of Governor Walker’s jobs agency is to disband it and create a fully accountable public department with a mission and a real strategy to create family supporting jobs,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The new department should focus its resources on creating the maximum number of family supporting jobs, not poverty jobs, and should place a special emphasis on areas with the greatest shortage of good jobs. There should be a long term economic strategy to create more economic opportunity, clear publicly known benchmarks for any company receiving assistance, a transparent process fully insulated from political considerations, and clawbacks from companies that fail to create the family supporting jobs that were promised.”

 Media Contacts

Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 robert.kraig@citizenactionwi.org

Kevin Kane (414) 550-8280 kevin.kane@citizenactionwi.org

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