Finance committee increases funding but cracks down on WEDC - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Finance committee increases funding but cracks down on WEDC


MADISON (WKOW)-- The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee met Thursday evening to discuss the budgeting for several government agencies. Among them was the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which has been on the hot seat ever since a scathing audit showed they did not follow state law.

Democrats were hoping to cut the agency's future budget, but a republican led majority said the funding will stay. Their budget will increase by $4.6 million over the next two years. It's nearly $10 million less than what Governor Scott Walker was hoping for.

The group will have to meet several strong requirements before it can use that money. The WEDC was created to help bring new businesses and jobs to the state of Wisconsin. The state currently ranks 44th in the nation for job creation.

The joint finance committee voted to make the WEDC more accountable by requiring them to submit an annual report to the legislature and get independent audits on its annual financial statements. The motion passed 12-4 and followed party lines. Democrats feel the decision was not harsh enough on the WEDC.

"We decided ultimately to give the WEDC yet more money after so many disturbing things that we heard today," democrat representative John Richards from Milwaukee says. "I think what the committee did was to cobble together a frantic response to very bad news that everyone acknowledges is bad news. They didn't go all the way."

Senator Alberta Darling and Representative John Nygren, both republicans and both chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, released a statement regarding Thursday night's decision.

"Today, we are sending a strong message to the WEDC that they will make significant changes and be held accountable....we still believe that this agency will better the business climate in Wisconsin. We want the agency to succeed and support their mission,"

Legislators from both parties said they were frustrated with the way the WEDC has been handling their business. The group will be on a short leash for the remainder of the year. If they don't show signs of improvement they could lose their funding for 2014.

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