Some companies that received tax credits from Wisconsin to spur job growth actually sent those jobs out of the state. Two democratic legislators sent a letter Monday asking for an update on how Wisconsin is working to get back the taxpayer money that was lost.
Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, sent a letter to Mark Hogan, secretary and chief executive officer designee of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. WEDC is the organization that provides businesses with monetary assistance to help stimulate the economy.
The two Democrats, who both serve on the WEDC board of directors, requested a report from WEDC on its efforts to recover money that was given to companies that outsourced jobs. They said an update will increase public awareness.
“The public perception that taxpayer dollars are going to companies which are not creating jobs, or which are actually reducing their employment in Wisconsin, is one of the significant challenges WEDC faces in rebuilding public confidence,” Barca and Lassa said in the letter.
— Greg Neumann (@gneumann_wkow) May 2, 2016
Hogan responded to the request with another letter, which was sent Monday to Barca and Lassa via email, Steve Michels, WEDC spokesperson, said in an email to The Badger Herald.
In the letter, Hogan said W.W. Grainger, one of the companies in question, earned $50,000 in tax credits from the Department of Commerce. W.W. Grainger did not maintain the jobs required in order to keep the credit, so WEDC revoked the $50,000, Hogan said. All of the credits will be paid back, he added.
Laura Smith, spokesperson for Barca, said Barca’s office received Hogan’s letter Tuesday, but she had not yet reviewed it.
Smith said WEDC and legislators should work to keep jobs here in the state and it’s important to recoup the money that was lost.
“Taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to outsource jobs,” Smith said.
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Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said there are recovery systems in place to earn back the tax credits, which WEDC is working to accomplish. He said the issue isn’t a matter of trying to blame WEDC because the money is going to be recovered.
But Barca said in a statement Nov. 11, 2015 WEDC has “serious shortcomings,” and suggested the organization be replaced because of the consequences of outsourcing, among other concerns.
Nygren said corporations make decisions based on what’s best for their companies, and neither WEDC nor the Legislature can control those decisions.
Additionally, employment in Wisconsin is at a high, and unemployment is at a 14-year low, Nygren said. WEDC and legislators will continue to work to spur job growth in Wisconsin, he said.
“Nobody wants jobs to leave Wisconsin, whether it’s Democrat or Republican administration,” Nygren said.