Lawmakers In Wisconsin Make Plans To Reinstate Economic Development Loans
With some new provisions in the state budget, the governor of Wisconsin’s jobs agency will soon be able to offer business loans once again. The provision was approved by the Legislature’s finance committee in a signing that was held at a local high school. The signing to allow the offer of business loans again is thought to be a sign that Walker’s economic engine is to start growing again. It was thought to be a very troubled flagship by the legislature previously.
Budget Prohibited Sections
During the year 2015 through 2017, the state budget had originally prohibited the ability of new loans for more than ten million during 2016 and 2015 and only five million from 2016 to 2017. The economic budget in Wisconsin was also meant to prohibit the WEDC from being able to issue newer loans unless they were loans meant to develop technology after the end of June.
The WEDC has recently been scrutinized over how they run their operations since the beginning of the creation of the agency in July of 2011. This was originally created to replace the Department of Commerce. This new agency has yet to recover loans that were made out to companies in trouble. They gave out more than $126 million to troubled companies without performing much needed formal reviews where they have experienced many top position turnovers. The loan prohibitions were added to the budget by republicans as a way to amend the problems and have continued to allow the WEDC to continue issuing grants and tax credits, however.
The governor had also included in his newest budget some provisions that would completely restore the ability of the WEDC to be able to issue loans as they are funded through the repayments of other current loans and not from tax money. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee decided to back this plan and allow the issuing of new loans if they follow the newly outlined provisions. However, they did end up removing the new provision Walker had suggested which meant new loans could only be offered if paid for by other loan’s repayments. Many people believe that the WEDC’s operations have improved vastly in the last couple years and are in a much better position now. A lot of people depend on the WEDC loan programs.
Votes Differed Between Democrats And Republicans
On the committee that was set to vote for the new plan, all twelve of the republicans voted for the plan. The four democrats that were on the committee voted against it. They did, however, offer some motions to put restrictions on the tax credits for the WEDC. They also put motions on restricting grants and loans which would include proposals which would require those who receive awards to create at least one new job in Wisconsin. Additionally, they would be required to impose certain penalties on the recipients which eliminate or relocate any jobs outside of the state and then block anyone who has defaulted on loan payments from being able to get any further WEDC awards. These motions were set in place to create accountability and transparency with this government assistance.
The republicans ended up killing every one of the motions from the democrats because it is almost impossible to be able to confirm how many jobs the WEDC helped to directly or indirectly move or retain.
Actions On Budget Of State Justice Department
While the committee was working on the WEDC loan provisions, they also decided to take action on some piece of the budget of the state’s Justice Department. While the panel decided to get rid of the plan created by Walker to give half a million in grants to the police for creation of specialized units for crowd control, they decided to keep the provision that offers the police two million to cover officer’s overtime pay over the next couple of years.
The committee also voted in agreement to assume the oversight of the Department of Justice’s discretionary fund. This fund was built through grants, settlement winnings and gifts. The fund is supposed to end the fiscal year with a sum of over eight million in total. Additionally, the committee voted to cut out the one million that the governor had wanted to give the justice department and instead give them half of that amount. They would also require that amount to be spent using the settlement funds to support the drug investigations. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that these moves were very surprising and disappointing to the agency.