UPDATE: Democrats want Gov. Walker removed as WEDC Board Chair - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Democrats want Gov. Walker removed as WEDC Board Chair

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Democratic lawmakers want Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) removed as Chairman of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Board.

Its part of an ambitious new plan that would give that Board far more control over the troubled agency.

The Senate and Assembly minority leaders want the WEDC board to control who chairs it and who fills the top spots within the agency.

"We need immediate and dramatic action in order to make progress in Wisconsin on jobs in order to ensure that WEDC can be effective," said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Assembly Minority Leader and a member of the WEDC Board.

Democrats say that action starts with replacing Gov. Walker with a chairperson of the Board's choosing.  But it doesn't stop there.

"The Board must have the authority to hire and fire all top WEDC positions including the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, and the Chief Financial Officer," said Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), who also serves on the WEDC Board.

"I think we have to keep our roles and our responsibilities straight up, so I don't think its appropriate," replied Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

Sen. Darling is the Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, which withheld new funding from WEDC last week until agency leaders can prove they've resolved their issues.  Those issues include a failure to track the dollars its awarded to state companies, one of six violations of state law.

"We have to give the new Secretary an opportunity to tell us what his plans are, and we have to hold them accountable," said Sen. Darling.

But Democrats say the requirements JFC imposed simply don't go far enough, because WEDC's problems are rooted in its organizational structure.

"Simply put, WEDC can no longer be dominated by the Governor while information is being withheld from a toothless Board of Directors that has little ability to control the agency," said Sen. Lassa.

Despite the uphill battle to get such a proposal through the legislature, Democrats say they hope public pressure will force some Republicans to support the bill.

The Governor's spokesperson, Tom Evenson, responded to the proposal, saying in-part:  "This new agency is taking necessary steps to address its issues and provide more accountability to taxpayers. Governor Walker demands the new agency improve its administrative performance and believes the front-line staff at WEDC is doing great work with local economic development efforts."

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Democratic lawmakers are proposing an ambitious plan to overhaul the way the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation operates, which includes removing Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) as the Chair of the WEDC Board of Directors.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and fellow WEDC Board member Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) say their bill would also give the Board the authority to hire and fire all top WEDC positions including Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

The Democrats say a recent audit of WEDC shows the agency is too troubled to trust current staff to handle the problem.

Gov. Scott Walker has maintained that most of the problems at WEDC are in the past and is confident that policies are now in place to correct them.

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) calls the proposal inappropriate, saying the current WEDC staff should be given a chance to respond to the audit by implementing its new policies.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have a full report on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.

  • Given the problems revealed in the audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, should Gov. Scott Walker be removed as WEDC Board Chairman?

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