In its first 15 months of existence, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded $126 million in incentives to 24 companies without a full financial review. Some deals turned out well, others have failed. The largest — up to $62.5 million in tax credits to Kohl’s Corp. — so far has not generated the number of jobs or amount of capital spending promised.
The Milwaukee County executive’s office under Scott Walker “obstructed” a criminal investigation into missing donations to a veterans fund, two investigators alleged Friday in a federal court brief that includes recently unsealed investigative records.
The governor and legislative leaders declined to say whether the governor himself was behind the original measure. A review by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism shows similarities between recent records request denials from the governor’s office and the state Department of Administration and changes inserted in the budget Thursday by Republican leaders — similarities that raise questions about whether Walker himself was involved in the budget proposal.
While cities like Madison, Waukesha and Green Bay thrive economically, northern Wisconsin counties have been left behind in the state’s economic development efforts. Local economic development leaders share stories of being ineligible for economic development programs brought by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental agency created in 2011 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Northern counties are also receiving proportionally less help from the WEDC, with many local leaders saying they are ineligible or unable to meet basic requirements for certain programs or incentives.
A state law requires that before the DNR can lay off a single permanent staffer, it must let go any limited-term employees or probationary employees with the same job classification. According to numbers DNR furnished the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in early May, the science bureau has 95 LTEs.
Conservative commentators have embraced the narrative put forth by critics of the two John Doe probes involving Walker and others. Wisconsin is being defamed as a place where unethical law enforcers driven by naked political partisanship have run amok.
Walker’s committee, Our American Revival, can raise and spend unlimited sums. At least two donors have given Walker $100,000 or more, according to press accounts. Had they so desired, these donors could have given $100 million.