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State Senate considers tighter controls on economic development corporation

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature are scheduled to meet at 11 this morning. The Assembly will spend the day considering the proposed state budget for the next two years. The Senate will take up a new venture capital program, and a bill that keeps a closer eye on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Under the venture capital bill, taxpayers would provide $25-million to help a variety of new businesses get off the ground. Another $50-million would come from private sources. The Assembly passed the bill on a 91-to-2 vote earlier this month. Most Democrats supported the measure, even though they were concerned that none of the money would go to medical bio-tech firms.

The bill involving the Economic Development Corporation is designed to provide more accountability, after a critical state audit which showed that the W-E-D-C never adopted legally-required policies, and did not keep track of loans and tax breaks to businesses for creating jobs. The bill would have the corporation’s board members serve six-year terms, instead of at the pleasure of the governor.

The agency would be audited every year instead of the current two years. All W-E-D-C employees would be subject to state ethics laws.