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WEDC board members laying out solutions in regards to audit

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Board members of the embattled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation started laying out solutions today to accountability problems spelled out in a stinging audit. The panel was told that the agency's new vice president for risk-and-credit, Jake Kuester, is drafting new procedures to keep a closer eye on tax credits, loans, and grants given to businesses for creating jobs. The W-E-D-C is establishing a new credit committee - and it's revamping its reporting and information technology systems. The agency had five vice presidents and seven staff members ready to answer questions. Governor Scott Walker, who chairs the agency's board, said the corporation has the chance to be more open and accountable to taxpayers with quote, "clear expectations, clear policies, and clear follow-up." At least one board member said legislators would not let up in checking on the W-E-D-C. Stevens Point Senate Democrat Julie Lassa told her colleagues there are bills circulating among lawmakers to require a full audit of the W-E-D-C every year. Despite the agency's criticisms, Walker said businesses were generally pleased in working with W-E-D-C staffers.

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The committee that's re-writing the proposed state budget will not delay a vote on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's spending package for the next two years. Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee wanted to delay the matter, as the fur flies from a stinging audit of the W-E-D-C issued six days ago. Republican committee co-chair John Nygren says a delay is not necessary. He says reforms might be needed at the state's job creation agency, but he does not believe it should hold up consideration of the W-E-D-C's budget. Governor Scott Walker has proposed a 75-million dollar budget for the agency for the next two years. The board of the public-private corporation met this morning to review the audit, and some members complained that they should have been allowed to have input. The audit said the agency broke state laws by not adopting certain policies, and it made mistakes in the way it gave and monitored job creation grants-and-loans.

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Board members of Wisconsin's job creation agency cried foul this morning, saying they were not allowed to give their input in a scathing audit of their agency. The policy-makers for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation complained that they were not allowed to know anything about the audit, until the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau released the results last week. The board held an emergency meeting in Waukesha to review the audit, which said the W-E-D-C broke state laws by not adopting certain policies, and did not properly carry out its system for giving grants-and-loans to private firms to create jobs. Several board members said they could not be expected to carry out their roles on the panel if they're shut out from the audit process. Republican Governor Scott Walker, who chairs the W-E-D-C Board, said there might be a need to tweak the auditors' rules. Another board member, Senate Democrat Julie Lassa of Stevens Point, says she wants auditors to speak to the board, so it can get a better understanding of the standards that were used.

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