READ LETTER TO:
Democratic members of the Joint Committee on Finance are sending several letters following Agency Briefings on Governor Walker’s proposed budget. Members were given 10 minutes for questions at the briefings. The letters represent unanswered questions or questions where more information is being requested. Joint Committee on Finance will begin public hearings on Governor Walker's proposed budget next week with executive sessions soon to follow.
From the letter to Governor Walker requesting he abandon his plans to merge WEDC and WHEDA:
“The struggles of WEDC appear to be ongoing as reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 9th regarding the failure of the agency to follow up on past due notices for companies that had failed to report usage of taxpayer funded loans and grants. The last round of past due notices were sent in January of 2014. Follow-up only began when the error was discovered in December of that year, eleven months later. The value of the loans and grants that should have been tracked was $43.3 million. The failure to follow-up was reported to the WEDC Board of Directors at the end of February. The consistent failure to track and report taxpayer funds are at the crux of our call for you to abandon your plan to merge WEDC and WHEDA in a formal letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance. Clearly more action needs to be taken internally at WEDC before any other major transition at the agency to reach our goals for a transparent and accountable usage of taxpayer funds for economic development.”
From the letter to Secretary Neitzel, Department of Administration and Secretary Gottlieb, Department of Transportation regarding Governor Walker’s travel expenses, including security, during trips to campaign for President:
“It would seem logical that campaign expenses are handled as campaign expenses. If it is not currently the policy of the Department of Transportation to bill back Governor Walkers “527” for security expenses that are campaign related will that be the policy moving forward?
From the letter to Secretary Reed Hall, WEDC and Executive Director Wyman Winston, WHEDA on the merger of the two agencies and limits on open records included in the Governor’s proposal:
“Although the issue of past WEDC mistakes in reporting was brought up at the JCF hearing last week, WEDC did not disclose information reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 9th regarding the failure of the agency to follow up on past due notices for companies that had failed to report usage of taxpayer funded loans and grants. The last round of past due notices were sent in January of 2014. Follow-up only began when the error was discovered in December of that year, eleven months later. The value of the loans and grants that should have been tracked was $43.3 million.”
“Carte blanche exemptions from Wisconsin Open Records laws are not needed to protect personally identifiable information or financial information of a person. Those protections are already outlined in state law.”
From the letter to Secretary Neitzel regarding the DOA budget increase of 34% and the centralization of IT and other functions and the state budget in general:
“The loss of these positions will take away institutional knowledge in IT, which is fragile due to the competitive market for IT professionals. Additionally, because of the DOA proposal to eliminate the “cost benefit analysis” for contracting out for services by agencies we are concerned that additional contracting out will occur for the very IT services that are happening “in agency” now.”
“Our priorities as we move ahead are not met in this budget with decreases in funding for public schools, huge cuts to the UW System, bonding for transportations rather than a long term solutions, a lack of data driven strategies to reduce prison costs and recidivism, and passing on Federal funds that could significantly improve the state budget for our citizens including funds to expand BadgerCare at a reduced cost to taxpayers.”