January 13, 2011
Walker Team on Commerce Plan: “We Don’t Know”
Taylor calls for accountability, transparency, and true job creation
(MADISON) – Following a public hearing on the bill today, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) released a statement today expressing serious concerns about Governor Walker’s plan to transition the Commerce Department into the public-private corporation known as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
“As the old saying goes ‘the devil is in the details’. This bill, as it stands, offers no implementation plan and no accountability to the taxpayers of Wisconsin. I’m also concerned about the serious lack of legislative oversight,” Taylor stated. “What this amounts to is a naked power grab by the Walker Administration. Today, in our committee hearing the administration gave vague goals, but not a plan. These are just words; I want to see it in writing. My Democratic Colleagues and I want, at the very least, the same standards of accountability and transparency that are currently in place.”
Taylor also noted that the proposed bill is following a model used in Indiana which has proved to be ineffective and has seen an increase in the unemployment gap between White and African American people of that state. Whereas Wisconsin has a lower unemployment rate overall, and an unemployment gap which is narrowing rather than growing larger.
“We’re heading in the right direction and Indiana is heading in the wrong direction so why are we trying to use their economic model?” Taylor asked. “I’m concerned that in this transition we will lose some of the specific programs which help create jobs and grow business in Minority groups, women-owned businesses, and disabled veteran’s programs. There is no promise in the bill of similar efforts and programs under the new corporation.”
The bill creates a private corporation with an unaccountable board of directors to be funded continually by the tax payers of Wisconsin without guarantee of the public’s ability to review its operations. Commerce Secretary Paul Jadin confirmed that he will head the Commerce Department and the new corporation at the same time. The bill will allow the Secretary to receive compensation from both agencies. Taylor noted “Double Dipping has been a seriously ethical concern in this state, which is why the current legal prohibition should continue for this new corporation.”