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Wis. gov open to new audit of job-creation agency

Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he wouldn't be opposed to a follow-up audit for his job-creation agency, one day after a nonpartisan review outlined a number of its serious missteps.

Lawmakers, including Republican state Sen. Rob Cowles and Democratic state Rep. Peter Barca, called Wednesday for a new audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. by the end of the year. They said if that review fails to show progress, the quasi-private WEDC should perhaps be abandoned for something more like the Commerce Department, the public state agency it replaced.

Walker said he wouldn't necessarily oppose a new audit.

"Certainly, to the extent that they think it adds value we'd be open to that," Walker told reporters following a prayer breakfast in Milwaukee.

Wednesday's audit was produced by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, which released a scathing report accusing WEDC of repeatedly breaking state law, failing to adequately track awarded money and giving money to ineligible recipients.

The audit also faulted WEDC for lacking policies to determine how to handle delinquent loan amounts.

Walker said the review repeats many things that were already known, and that the agency has begun addressing them. He added that some of the problems, including poorly researched loans, were approved by the Commerce Department before WEDC was even created about two years ago.

He said he asked the WEDC board to create a credit committee, made of up board members and external people with strong financial backgrounds, to review the loans, particularly the ones that are past due.

Walker also said WEDC has to be more diligent in its loan-making process so it can regain the public's confidence.

"There'll be more changes on the horizon in terms of work governance, in terms of oversight, in terms of credit issues," he said.


Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.