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State lawmaker questions if WEDC has even created any jobs


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A state Senate Democrat is questioning whether the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has created any jobs since it was formed two years ago.

The Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee held a hearing Thursday on the recent state audit which said the WEDC improperly distributed and monitored state tax funds to help businesses create jobs.

Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma quoted parts of the audit in which the WEDC claimed it saved or created 5,000 jobs.The auditors said it was hard to verify the accuracy of those numbers.

Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green said he was concerned that the WEDC’s board did not recognize the lack of financial reporting. He questioned why it went on for so long.

Senate Democrat John Lehman of Racine said the agency was not taking responsibility for a failure to follow state law in adopting its policies.

Governor Scott Walker has pointed the finger at the previous Commerce Department run by his Democratic predecessors.

Walker said the new agency adopted policies that the old Commerce agency never formalized.

The governor and other Republicans defend the agency as being more popular with businesses, while admitting it needs to be more accountable.

The Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to consider more funding for the agency. Co-chair John Nygren has talked about holding up the extra funds until the WEDC shows proof of reforms.