By Urban Media News
One of the worst kept secrets in Wisconsin is how badly our state is lagging in terms of job creation.
While the rest of the nation surges ahead in terms of economic recovery, Wisconsin ranks dead last— 10th out of 10 Midwestern states—in private sector job creation since 2011.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, our state has fallen from 11th in the nation in private sector job growth all the way down to 35th just three years later.
Just this month, a downward revision of June jobs numbers showed Wisconsin only continues to slide backwards when it comes to job creation.
Last year was the worst for private sector job creation since the great recession—and this year’s pace is even worse.
Scott Walker’s flagship job creation agency, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), was established to lead the way in achieving Walker’s central campaign promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs.
Unfortunately, the agency has become much better known for being mired in scandal than for fulfilling its mission.
At the start of 2013— which would turn out to be the worst year yet under Walker in terms of private sector job creation in Wisconsin—WEDC Vice President Lisa Thompson told the Capital Times newspaper, “We suck. We’re bad.
Do we keep talking about it or do we take action?”
More than a year later, WEDC is still bad, and 2014 is on pace to be much worse than the year before.
After hearing about job creation throughout Walker’s entire first term, Wisconsin families are still wondering where the good paying jobs are.
Filled with political allies to Scott Walker and his private-sector cronies, WEDC has been busier carrying water for Walker’s failed job creation agenda than working on real solutions to put Wisconsin back to work.
Multiple audits of WEDC show the quasi-public jobs agency failed to follow basic standards in the state law to ensure the clear and proper use of millions in taxpayer dollars.
Over the course of its very short history, WEDC has failed to obtain financial statements for the companies it does business with, given rewards to ineligible businesses, awarded up to $1 million to companies for actions done before signing contracts with the state government, and neglected on multiple occasions to follow up to ensure jobs were created—even fudging the numbers on jobs that didn’t surface.
Three years have proven Walker and WEDC have no real plan or strategy for job growth or economic turnaround—they believe saying the words “job creation” is as good as putting in the work.
WEDC even found a way to break the law before it found an effective way to create jobs. Audits showed the economic development corporation let staff use credit cards to buy alcohol and football tickets.
Much has been made of WEDC giving millions in taxpayer money to Plexus and Eaton Corporation, two companies which sent over one hundred jobs overseas to foreign countries, but Walker’s failed agency has clearly struggled to match it’s lofty rhetoric on development from the start.
Given its most recent controversy, Walker is refusing to let out information on companies working with WEDC, citing security concerns.
Wisconsin deserves a well thought-out plan for job creation, one that serious looks at what is needed to turn our state around and get families back to work. Luckily, we have one.
Walker’s rival in the gubernatorial election, businesswoman and former Commerce Secretary Mary Burke, introduced a economic development plan called “Invest for Success” that promises to turn Wisconsin into a top-ten, thriving economy.
Using knowledge from her success in business, Burke says she’ll tackle the state’s economic problems on day one as Governor.
Instead of lip-service, Burke plans to execute a real job-creation plan, using proven private-sector strategies and transparent metrics to ensure greater accountability.
Wisconsin families could use Mary Burke’s commonsense, businesslike private sector approach, WEDC’s first few years have been a train wreck and Walker’s failed economic policies have only made the ride worse for struggling households.
With the primary completed, as we get closer to November, voters should choose to move forward, not backward, and send Wisconsin in a new direction with Mary Burke.