New Report Finds Lack of Accountability for Millions in Economic Development Subsidies
A new report issued yesterday concludes that Wisconsin taxpayers have access to almost no information about the outcomes from millions of dollars invested in economic development subsidies over the past four years. The new report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) Foundation finds that online transparency has gotten worse, and it includes nine recommendations to enable strong public scrutiny and ensure recipient accountability for Wisconsin’s economic development programs.
“Governor Walker and leaders from both parties have promised transparency and accountability in state government, but they have not delivered,” said WISPIRG Director Bruce Speight. “Given our state budget problems, the last thing we should do is spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with almost no transparency or accountability.”
Some of the findings of the report (Leaving Taxpayers in the Dark: The Urgent Need to Improve Transparency and Accountability in Wisconsin’s Economic Development Subsidy Programs) include the following:
Planned and actual performance results were provided for just 2 recipients, or 0.8%, of 251 completed projects listed on the state’s online database for 2009 and 2010, even though reporting these outcomes is required by law under 2007 Act 125.
In dollar terms, the remaining 249 completed awards which failed to provide necessary information to evaluate performance represent $8,244,678 in awards; roughly 99% of the total $8.3 million awarded funds for completed projects during this period.
- No information is disclosed online about the state’s enforcement activities for companies who fail to fulfill their contractual obligations.
“Even state auditors couldn’t quantify the outcomes of these programs because the information isn’t there,” said Alysha Burt, WISPIRG Program Associate and co-author of the report. For all we know, millions of our tax dollars could be funding junkets to the Caribbean.” Read more in the Capital Times article by Mike Ivey.