Future of Wisconsin job creation agency in question

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- An audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) shows the state's top job creation agency isn't following the rules. Now, the future of the two-year-old agency is now in question.

A report from the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau shows the WEDC has broken state law, failed to track money and awarded tax credits to ineligible recipients and projects.

Milwaukee Democratic State Senator Chris Larson says the agency is riddled with problems.

"There's really widespread waste, fraud and abuse at this corporation, which is headed by Gov. Scott Walker, who is the chairman of the board," said Larson.

Gov. Walker defended the agency, which he created after his election. He also said he would be open to another audit.

"The biggest thing we've asked the board to do is put in place a credit committee that would bring about folks from the board and people externally and people who had a financial background to review the loans that are made and those that are past due," noted Walker.

Senator Larson suggests that after two years of mismanagement, the WEDC should be scrapped entirely and the state should return to a more transparent, traditional, fully public department of commerce.

"What we have now is a thick shroud covering everything and all we get is these glimpses every time there's an audit and every time it's showing they're losing track of millions of dollars," says Larson.

Gov. Walker added, "there will be more changes on the horizon in terms of more governance, oversight, credit issues, things of that nature."

Larson believe part of the blame should go to the legislature for not putting in enough safeguards when the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation was created, but Walker says some of the suspect loans were granted before the WEDC was created.