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Agency That Lost Millions Looks to Inherit Mining Windfall Featured

Madison – The former Wisconsin Department of Commerce, which is now known as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), stands to collect a 40% cut of the tax revenue generated from the destruction of the Penokee Hills – which could net the entity anywhere from $5.5 to $10 million in proceeds.

Scott Walker dissolved the Commerce Department and created WEDC in 2011, with the help of a lockstep GOP-controlled legislature, in order to spur state job growth and business development. The agency is tasked with handling loans totaling millions of dollars in order to help businesses grow and citizens gain employment was never required to submit financial reports, or undergo independent audits.

Scott Walker, who is solely responsible for the formation of this corporation, designed it so it can operate with little to no oversight. It is with that freedom to operate that has led the Walker pet project to lose track of a $50 million portfolio in which much of the money will never be recouped – a substantial loss for tax payers, businesses and those seeking employment.

It is the very  same corporation, who has done nothing with regard to the mining investment that stands to inherit a 40% windfall from the destruction of the Penokee Hills area under the new proposed law. Under current Wisconsin mining law, all tax proceeds are deposited into “local impact fund.” The impact fund is designed to help communities affected by the mining operations for things such as new roads, bridges, sewers, water and more.

Senator Tom Tiffany, sponsor of the new mining bill, seeks to send the WEDC a 40% gift rather than give that money to the local community for business diversification, which it will need to have in place in order to survive after the mining company leaves town.

It appears as if Tiffany is attempting to throw Scott Walker a lifeline by infusing cash into the WEDC, an agency with a record of cash mismanagement, even though it played no part in mining what so ever. State Legislators have an obligation to the tax payers of Wisconsin to explain where the waste, fraud or abuse took place at the WEDC before they even think about sending the agency another dime, especially money generated from the destruction of an environmental treasure.

There needs to be an outside investigation conducted, as this appears to be another Scott Walker-led “Operation Freedom” on a much bigger scale.

Published in Wisconsin Politics

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