As it turns out, history had already determined that state handouts to attract and keep businesses was a horrible idea, so bad in fact many states amended their Constitutions to prevent those mistakes from ever happening again in the future.After reading the Cap Times article “Where to now with Foxconn? It won’t leave Wisconsin, but it won’t build what it promised,” where every paragraph revealed another strange twist or failure, I had to look up why Scott Walker and his band of plundering Republicans pirates liked the idea of state corporate handouts so much. Not surprisingly, their actions weren’t based on anything I found in the real world, it was simply pure ideological theory. Look at how much money we’re losing, and how few jobs they’re creating…
Five-hours of open-for-business scheming –
You see, in Janesville, extremely wealthy individuals and politically connected pals including large corporations with hundreds of millions in cash on hand focus more on getting substantial capital hand-outs and other free stuff, usually by way of lucrative TIF deals, from local taxpayers before they commit to Janesville. It’s the first commandment from their economic development bible here. Thou shalt not invest in Janesville or create jobs before capturing some free TIF surplus capital, free land or other free stuff. Their second commandment is a warning for local taxpayers: Thou shalt not believe in false hope that growth will come without providing “incentives.” You get the idea.
It’s just that what it’s supposed to do is enrich cronies –
Unwanted anywhere –
A woman who played a key role in Wisconsin’s economic development agency, including overseeing a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a failing construction company, has lost her job as the top economic leader in Nebraska.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office announced Thursday that Brenda Hicks-Sorensen is no longer that state’s economic development director. She had been on the job a little more than eight months.
She was previously the vice president for economic and community development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
The state’s flagship job-creation agency handed out nearly $90 million more in economic development awards last year than the previous year, yet those awards are expected to create or retain almost 6,000 fewer jobs and result in $400 million less in capital investment.
Most of the additional award funding resulted from a historic rehabilitation tax credit that Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature expanded in 2013. The agency gave out $2.9 million in 2013-14, but that jumped to $78.1 million last year.
Even without the historic credits, total economic development awards increased $13.5 million, while promised job creation and capital investment dropped….
The agreement calls for the DNR to sell 765 feet of frontage on Rest Lake in the Town of Manitowish Water to Elizabeth Uihlein, who with her husband, Richard, has donated nearly $3 million in recent years to the governor.
But there’s another Kohl’s story Walker doesn’t tell.
It’s about the $62.5 million package of tax credits given to Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. — the biggest state subsidy for creating jobs under the Walker administration — that three years later isn’t generating the promised jobs or capital spending.
The deal allows Kohl’s to collect tax credits annually for each created job that meets certain criteria — even if that position vanishes after a year.
The work looks into the state’s jobs organization’s awards to WI companies, like Kohl’s. WEDC has given and promised millions of dollars to corporations with the intention of creating jobs in the state. Hall’s investigation measures actual growth after disputes over the department’s transparency.
“Are you going to follow the recommendations in the audit?” I asked the Board Chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). He crossed his arms, sat back and smiled at me.
A smile that, to me, said I was annoying him.
The clearest path to better outcomes at Governor Walker’s flagship jobs creation agency is to follow the recommendations of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).
However, during a recent and very long public hearing investigating the troubled agency, I repeatedly heard obfuscation, deception and disdain for the law.
But an increasing number of Democrats and even a few conservatives have proposed making major changes to WEDC, either by overhauling it or by eliminating all or most of the agency. In July, Republican lawmakers already reduced the funding for WEDC as part of the current state budget.
You see, not only will the city be giving land valued at $4.25M to Dollar General for free, but the property taxes on the new incremental value DG is supposed to pay “to repay the municipality’s costs” WILL BE REFUNDED to them for the first ten years. That also means DG’s TIF district will not produce a $1.5M surplus near the end of the 10 year term. The deal essentially terminates the stakeholders responsibility for funding TIF District infrastructure and relegates the TIF application to a simple legal platform for local tools of the oligarchy to exempt Dollar General from its property tax obligations.
Let’s see if these projects ever get off the ground. I’ll remind you that Eaton Corp announced plans for a sizable expansion with WEDC tax credits in Spring 2014 (just as Scott Walker’s re-election campaign was ramping up) only to outsource large amounts of Wisconsin jobs twice in the last 18 months. Funny how these things never seem to work itself out the way the initial headlines claim, isn’t it?
WEDC was part of another “future jobs announcement” this week regarding a new warehouse for Dollar General in Janesville, which features another $5.5 million in potential WEDC write-offs, along with local tax breaks and land gifts from the Janesville area. And the timing of these announcements are very interesting, because last Wednesday, WEDC was the subject of a legislative hearing related to another blistering audit by the Legislative Audit Bureau. And take a look at what came out in that hearing, where both Republicans and (especially) Democrats were angered by WEDC’s continued inability to follow state laws on tracking loans, grants and job-making progress, combined with the loss of taxpayer dollars from previously failed projects and questionable loans.