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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Issue of the Week: Is Walker’s Jobs Agency Favoring GOP Districts?

Scott Walker
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Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011 with an ambitious agenda. He quickly “dropped the bomb” on the state with his public employee union-busting Act 10. He also said he’d make good on his promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs in his first term by eliminating the existing Commerce Department and replacing it with the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

We all know how well that’s worked out.

Walker hasn’t created even half of the number of jobs that he repeatedly promised to deliver.

And the taxpayer-funded WEDC has been mired in controversy since its inception. An audit showed that its accounting system was so poor it wasn’t tracking millions of dollars of outstanding loans. The books were so sloppy that the auditors couldn’t even prove WEDC’s claims about creating even a single job.

Now comes a new report from Citizen Action of Wisconsin that calls into question the mission and operation of WEDC. According to its analysis of WEDC’s “job impact” map, the agency is “impacting” more jobs in Republican districts than Democratic ones. (Note the shift from creating jobs to “impacting” them.) For example, in Republican Assembly districts, WEDC has impacted a projected 86% more jobs than in Democratic districts. Republican Assembly leaders’ districts are a special focus of WEDC. The districts of just-removed Majority Leader Bill Kramer of Waukesha, Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington and Joint Finance Committee Co-chair John Nygren of Marinette had a disproportionate number of jobs “impacted,” Citizen Action found. And, unsurprisingly, there’s a huge disparity between jobs impacted in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. WEDC has impacted one job for every 36 Waukesha County residents but only one job for every 166 Milwaukee County residents, Citizen Action reported. 

Walker defended WEDC’s actions with a reporter, implying that Republicans are the recipients of more WEDC love because there are more Republican business owners.

While Republicans like to think that they are the only “job creators,” we know that simply isn’t true. Walker, for one, has totally failed as a job creator as governor. And his WEDC is turning out to be yet another way for him to shovel taxpayer dollars to his political allies, regardless of their ability to help him create a better Wisconsin.