MADISON, Wis. — Following the “revelation” that the University of Wisconsin System maintains a reserve fund, State Representative and member of the “CPA Caucus” Howard Marklein has vowed to review the finance of more state agencies. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross suggested Marklein and his GOP cohorts ought to start with Gov. Walker’s woefully underperforming Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
Ross commented, “Gov. Walker’s WEDC has failed to perform as promised. From losing track of millions of taxpayer dollars to failing to follow even basic accounting practices, the bumbling has been well-reported and the result is one of the worst records on jobs in the nation. If any agency deserves scrutiny and needs to be held accountable for its failures, this is the one.”
In 2011, Gov. Walker and Republicans eliminated the Department of Commerce and moved many of its functions to the quasi-private WEDC. At the time, serious concerns were raised about the potential lack of transparency and ineffectiveness of the model in other states. These concerns have been borne out, and, under WEDC and Walker, Wisconsin lags all Midwestern states and ranks 44th nationally for job creation.
Failing to examine Walker’s WEDC, in light of its numerous, well-publicized misfires would, according to Ross, raise questions about the true intentions of Marklein and the GOP’s. It strongly suggests that the controversy over the UW System’s reserve fund is nothing more than a charade to justify raiding education funds to pay for things like more tax breaks for the wealthy and the expansion of the unaccountable private school voucher program.
Ross noted that the last budget concocted by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans made the largest cuts to education in state history and had over $400 million in raids on funds for purposes other than those for which they were intended. Gov. Walker’s proposed 2013-15 budget includes over $340 million in fund raids.
He concluded, “If Republican legislators continue to refuse to subject Gov. Walker’s woefully inadequate WEDC to the same level of scrutiny as state education spending, once again, they will reveal themselves to be more concerned with tax breaks for the wealthy and their education privatization schemes than helping students or making sure state funds are well spent.”