Readers React: WEDC has failed; time to end it

5:37 PM, May 17, 2013  |  Comments
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This is an intolerable violation of the public trust. Wisconsin's taxpayers, unemployed individuals and the business community have already suffered from more than two years of chaos in our state job creation agency. We've seen the results: Wisconsin ranks 44th nationally in job creation and is dead last in the Midwest.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee responded to the audit by withholding a large portion of WEDC's funding until the agency shows it is making needed changes. It also imposed additional reporting and ethics requirements on the quasi-private agency; ironically, several of these were amendments my Democratic colleagues and I proposed in 2011 when WEDC was being created, but were voted down by the Republican majority at the time.

WEDC can no longer be completely dominated by the governor while information is withheld from a toothless board of directors that has little ability to control the agency. Instead, senior management must be held accountable to the board, which must have the financial management and economic development expertise to provide real oversight to the agency.

Until we know the problems are fixed, WEDC should be subject to an annual Legislative Audit Bureau audit. Most of all, WEDC has to finally get serious about verifying how the taxpayers' money it invests in businesses is actually being spent, and how many jobs are really being created as a result.

- State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point

from her column, "WEDC needs reform now"

This is what happens when you throw titles around like "quasi" public. The funds wasted were all "public," the people responsible want to keep it "private." Demands for accountability are met with whines about government intrusion. You don't want oversight? Spend your own money.

- Karyn J. Powers

Perhaps it has just been incompetence, perhaps arrogance of power, perhaps political payback, but the agency is a mess. It was poorly planned and horribly managed. That being said, we need a well functioning economic development agency. Currently, we sure don't have one. If the legislature can hold it accountable, then fine. Pardon my cynicism, but with Scott Walker as chairman, I have sincere reservations that there will be any substantive improvements. I would recommend he step down and find someone at least reasonably competent to be chairman.

- Ed Hammer

End WEDC, and since a functioning economic development agency is vital to Wisconsin, return to the previous system - which was nonpartisan and getting the job done following the recession! "New accountability measures" sound good, but the agency hasn't been creating jobs and has misappropriated funds, and no one is being held accountable or resonsible.

- John Enk

We don't need another government agency to suck up tax dollars; we need one that will actually do the job it was designed to do.

- Melanie Clark

The decision by Republicans to throw another $59 million dollars of the public's money at Gov. Walker's discredited jobs agency is an outrageous betrayal of the tens of thousands of Wisconsinites struggling to find work. Scolding and minor tinkering will not fix the problems at WEDC. The entire concept is fundamentally flawed. The issues at WEDC are deeply connected to its structure as a private agency, expressly designed to dole out taxpayer money without rigorous accountability and transparency.

- Robert Kraig,

"WEDC must be disbanded"

Draft versions of Sunday editorials are posted online on Wednesday afternoon for feedback and reader reaction.

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