As Scott Walker kicks off his presidential bid (But remember, kids, he's not really a candidate yet! Yeah, right.), his record is getting a closer, but not necessarily a more honest, look at his record.
One of the things Walker promised when he was running for governor in 2010 was that he would create 250,000 jobs before the end of his first term, when he wasn't busy saying that government doesn't create jobs. That really wasn't a big risk as far as pledges go. Experts said that he could do that by doing nothing if national and global economics picked up enough. But Walker did was worse than doing nothing because he came nowhere near his goal. In fact, depending on how you count it, he didn't even reach the halfway point.
To meet his goal, Walker created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a public-private entity that was the kingpin of his job creation scheme.
Andy Sullivan at Reuters took a look at Walker's WEDC.
At first, Sullivan treated it with kid gloves, feeding into the right wing propaganda that the lack of job creation was due to uncertainty due to the protests. That's a crock. Walker also blamed his recall, Obama's reelection, Obamacare, and, well, everything but himself.
As is usual for these types of articles, Sullivan doesn't get to the meat of the issue until near the bottom of his column, after many readers might stop reading:
Only 25 percent of those who worked at WEDC when it started are still there now, according to a former top state economic development official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The turmoil hasn't been confined to the rank and file. Since 2011, the body has had two chief executive officers and is now looking for its third chief operating officer and fourth chief financial officer.
State legislative audits have found that WEDC has mismanaged taxpayer funds and handed out awards to companies that should not have been eligible for them. The agency also didn't follow up to ensure that jobs were actually being created and failed to track whether businesses were paying their loans back on time, according to reviews in 2012 and 2013. Lassa said the agency had improved its performance somewhat since then.↓ Story continues below ↓
The agency also awarded job-creation grants to companies that have shipped jobs overseas, prompting Walker to promise reforms during his 2014 re-election campaign. Since then, the agency has adopted rules that prohibit companies from using WEDC funds to outsource jobs.
The agency has fallen short of its own goals. In its first fiscal year of operation, which ended on June 30, 2012, WEDC reported that it had backed projects that would create or retain 23,759 jobs, short of its goal of 50,000 jobs.
WEDC fell short again the following year, when it reported that it had signed off on projects that would create 11,058 jobs and retain another 26,255, again short of the 50,000 goal.
Unfortunately, Sullivan also missed a lot of important things.
Things like that
- Walker used the WEDC board as a place to stick his unqualified former campaign workers, even though they had no experience in economic development
- The money they lost track of was in the tens of millions of dollars
- WEDC was involved in bid rigging
- They used taxpayer money to buy iTunes for their iPads and tickets to Badger games
- Many of the companies that received WEDC money were also Walker campaign donors
Another big thing that Sullivan didn't mention is that Walker had a lot of warning that this scheme was a bad idea and was basically designed to fail at its purpoted goal of creating jobs.
On the bright side, it is excelling at the fraud, corruption and waste that these types of programs create. Maybe Walker can put that in one of his presidential resume bullet points.