Good Jobs First, a non-partisan group that tracks government subsidies, recently released Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs: The Failures of Privatized State Economic Development Agencies, a follow-up to a 2011 report that warned of problems with the public-private partnerships.
Per the report released on Wednesday:
“Enacted in 2011 at the initiative of Gov. Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has been racked by scandals and high-level staff instability. It awarded a subsidy to a company that was simultaneously bidding on a $15 million state contract. It was accused of spending millions of dollars in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development without legal authority. It failed to track past-due loans. It hired an executive who owed the state a large amount of back taxes. Two legislative audits have revealed a loose organizational culture that is failing to perform basic “watching the store” functions on outstanding loans and allowing large amounts of unapproved or unjustified staff credit-card expenses.”
It also conveys that WEDC “ mismanaged public money, made questionable subsidy awards, lacked adequate transparency, resisted accountability, had conflicts of interest in awarding of subsidies, given management lavish executive pay, and made questionable claims about job creation. While all this was going on, over a fifth of WEDC employees were awarded merit bonuses.”
For the rest of the report, click here.
To view the May 21, 2013 Journal Times editorial: WEDC must get its house in order, click here.
Says Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First: "Privatizing a state development agency is an inherently corrupting move that states should avoid or repeal. Taxpayers are best served by experienced public-agency employees who are fully covered by ethics and conflicts laws, open records acts, and oversight by auditors and legislators." Yeah. And after experiencing WEDC, which was fraught with abuses and been such a disaster, what rational Wisconsin taxpaying citizen could disagree?