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After Scathing Audits at WEDC, WisGOP Looks to Remove Independent Oversight PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Melissa Baldauff   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 10:49

walker-wedcA series of LAB and external audits beginning in 2012 show WEDC lost track of $56 million worth of taxpayer funded loans and found the agency lacked basic internal accounting controls, and now the Republican legislature is proposing to eliminate it.

MADISON – Scott Walker has been plagued with bad press over the failures at his flagship jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, as the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has repeatedly highlighted the agency’s failures in a series of audits that show WEDC lost track of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded loans and failed to follow state and federal law – and now the Republican legislature is proposing to eliminate the LAB in favor of so-called independent investigators working under the direction of the GOP-controlled legislature.

Citing the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, the Capital Times reports that the bill “would allow the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader to direct the inspectors to ‘audit the records of any state agency or program or any county, city, village, town, or school district.’”

A series of LAB and external audits beginning in 2012 show WEDC lost track of $56 million worth of taxpayer funded loans and found that the agency lacked basic internal accounting controls. The quasi-public agency has also written off more than $7.6 million in loans, to include a $500,000 loan to a troubled company owned by a major donor to Walker’s campaign.

And just last month, another audit released by the LAB found that:

  • WEDC’s contracts for grants and loans didn’t follow the law or even their own internal policies on a consistent basis;
  • Recipients of taxpayer funds were not contractually required to  submit information showing that jobs were created and/or retained;
  • Staff did not consistently comply with policies established by the governing board, and the policies did not consistently comply with statutory requirements;
  • WEDC did not allocate tax credits in compliance with the law or its internal policies and did not establish all statutorily required policies for its tax credit programs or determine whether recipients met all eligibility criteria;
  • WEDC did not properly account for the numbers of jobs created and retained as a result of awards it made.

marsha-laning“Wisconsin taxpayers trust our elected officials and state agencies to be responsible stewards of our resources and make smart investments in programs that go towards building strong communities,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said Tuesday.

“When those agencies are failing, we must be able to rely on independent auditors that will correct the problems in an open and transparent way. As a former auditor, this proposal to do away with the Legislative Audit Bureau raises a number of red flags. It would be unacceptable in any business setting and it is unacceptable in our government to replace independent professionals with a group of self-selected insiders who are predisposed to bias. Maintaining the integrity and authority of the Legislative Audit Bureau is essential to upholding our state’s proud traditions of good, clean government.”

Demand Basic Accountability at Gov. Walker’s Dysfunctional Jobs Agency PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Assembly Democrats, Laura Smith   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 10:19

walker-no-jobsRepublicans block measure by Assembly Democrats to require the WEDC to provide immediate answers to lawmakers and taxpayers regarding its risky loan activities, again selling out Wisconsin taxpayers to support Scott Walker’s personal presidential ambitions.

MADISON - Assembly Democrats voted on Tuesday to require that Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provide immediate answers to lawmakers and taxpayers regarding its risky loan activities. Assembly Republicans voted to deny the demand for WEDC to provide information to the legislature to avoid further fraud and abuse in its lending activities, despite bombshell media reports and a scathing nonpartisan audit revealing unsecured loans.

peter_barca“While Gov. Walker misleads the public with his rhetoric that his jobs agency is providing ‘unfettered’ access to WEDC staff and information, WEDC continues to stonewall board members and legislators from receiving basic information about their risky loans,” Assembly Democratic Leader Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said. “Our taxpayers deserve answers. It is irresponsible to not hold WEDC accountable for its loan portfolio and record-keeping activities.”

The resolution would have required the governor and WEDC to report to the legislature within seven days to provide full records and documentation on any unsecured loans, loans issued over concerns of underwriters, or loans where underwriting documentation is missing or was not complete.

Recent media reports that WEDC may have granted at least one loan – totaling $500,000 – as a favor to one of the governor’s campaign contributors, despite never even conducting a staff review of the loan recipient.

julie_lassaRep. Barca and Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), the Democratic representatives on the WEDC Board, requested on May 21 key information regarding loan activity. They still have not received basic answers or records from WEDC and the staff refuses to meet with them. Instead, WEDC is pushing off any meetings with the Board members until late July, presumably after the state budget has passed.

“Assembly Democrats believe the taxpayers of Wisconsin deserve an explanation on potential ethical and criminal violations and the ongoing mismanagement of taxpayer funds at Gov. Walker’s WEDC,” Rep. Barca added. “There are many unanswered questions about WEDC’s activities and the potential for criminal involvement.”

Republicans Pass Dangerous Abortion Ban PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by State Senate Democrats   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 09:33

domesticviolenceGOP disregards medical community and approves ban that threatens women's health and a woman's right to make her own decisions.

MADISON – Despite objections from Wisconsin families and doctors, Republicans in the State Senate approved a measure to place greater restrictions on abortion care. The proposal, Senate Bill 179 (SB 179), would prevent health professionals from delivering the highest standard of medical care to victims of rape and incest and women experiencing rare or unexpected pregnancy complications.

jennifer-shilling“We need to protect a woman’s freedom to make decisions about her health care and prevent further political intrusion into personal decisions that are best left to a woman, her doctor, her family and her faith,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling. “This bill jeopardizes women’s safety and prevents health professionals from making life-saving medical decisions.”

Recognizing the dangerous situations this bill would create, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, the Wisconsin Public Health Association and the Wisconsin Medical Society all registered their opposition to SB 179.

“We should listen to the doctors in our state, the overwhelming abundance of peer-reviewed medical research and, most importantly, the women and families who will be placed in harm’s way if this dangerous bill is passed,” added Shilling. “It is disappointing that Republicans are using this divisive bill to distract from Wisconsin's $2.2 billion budget crisis, the chronic underfunding of our local schools and the crumbling of our state’s infrastructure. By prioritizing this dangerous abortion ban, the Republican Party is sending a clear message that their political ideology and Gov. Walker’s presidential ambitions are more important than the health care needs of women and families across our state”

jon-erpenbachSenator Jon Erpenbach of Madison said on the passage of the SB 179 Abortion Ban:

“Women and families in Wisconsin facing difficult decisions have had their health and lives put on the line with the passage of the dangerous abortion ban authored by Senator Lazich. Not one person in the Senate today is qualified to make these types of medical decisions, we are not doctors we are politicians. This bill puts the health of women on the line and prevents medical professionals from making decisions with their patients. By moving ahead with legislation that we know contains junk science that places non-medical terms in the statute, even the author must admit this Legislation is doomed to land in the courts. In the meantime we have threatened doctors and women in Wisconsin for political gain.”

chris_larsonAlso Tuesday, Senator Chris Larson released the following statement on the Republican's move to ban abortions and once again attack a woman’s right to make her own choices:

“Today we saw yet another attack on a woman’s rights to make deeply personal decisions regarding her health care.

“Under this Republican bill, a woman experiencing serious health complications or severe fetal abnormalities would have no opportunity to make her own personal, private health care decisions. Furthermore, Republicans actually have the audacity to ban victims of rape and incest from having a choice to decide what is best for themselves. What’s worse, is that Republicans are taking an “eye for an eye” approach by valuing an unborn fetus over the life of the mother by making it so doctors would face prison time for providing abortion care to women – even if it were to preserve the life of the mother.

“Not every pregnancy ends in a baby. Some pregnancies go tragically wrong and can create serious health complications that threaten health, life or the viability of the pregnancy. Women deserve the freedom to decide what is best for her family. No politician should come between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her faith. That is not our job and Republicans should be ashamed of the lack of empathy their actions today shows to the families in Wisconsin that have had to make these incredibly tough decisions.

“Republicans, once again, are simply choosing to ignore reality. At the public hearing for the bill, leading medical groups unanimously voiced their strong opposition, noting that this bill is not based on sound science. We know that nearly 99% of abortions in Wisconsin and the U.S. occur before 20 weeks gestation. In 2013, less than 100 abortions in Wisconsin occurred after 20 weeks. We know that these involve rare, severe fetal abnormalities and serious risks to the woman’s health, which are typically not discovered until the 20 week ultrasound.

“We heard countless stories from women and families who had to make these terribly hard decisions about wanted pregnancies at the public hearing for this bill. We heard from a family who found out at the 20 week ultrasound that their daughter had no brain function and would likely not survive labor or delivery. The family decided to end the pregnancy and induced labor at 22 weeks because they believed that to be the most loving and humane thing they could do for their daughter.

“Republicans heard the same heart breaking stories, yet chose to listen to their political allies who provide them with anecdotal and medically inaccurate information, which they use as gospel to justify passing this regressive-era legislation that takes Wisconsin backwards to the 1960s. Instead, we should trust women and move our state forward.”

Sen. Hansen and Rep. Genrich to Hold Area Office Hours In Green Bay this Thursday PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by GBP Staff   
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 18:09

eric-genrichMADISON - State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay) announced today that they will be holding area office hours in Green Bay this Thursday, June 11th.

dave_hansen“We would like to encourage anyone who is having questions or comments about the state budget or who has a problem with a government agency to stop by and meet with us to discuss them,” Hansen said.

Thursday, June 11th

Board Room
Brown County Library, Central Branch
515 Pine Street
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

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