This repeated justification ignores evident realities: (1) in times of low unemployment job-creation subsidies are less necessary, (2) wealthy corporate recipients are often flush even before receiving taxpayer subsidies, (3) these subsidies are often misused, (4) state and local planners do a poor job of picking market winners, (5) these planners often subsidize with public money for dead-end jobs, simply to say they created something or anything, and (6) subsidies often go to corporate donors, cronies, and insiders.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, for example, is one of America’s starkest models of failed economic planning and anti-market meddling. (And yet, for it all, in small towns like Whitewater local agencies like the Whitewater Community Development Authority practice the same waste and buffoonery that they see at the state level. Imagine these local manipulators dreaming: We’d like to be tiny versions of the state-level failures everyone reads so much about.)
Yet again, one reads about a WEDC failure in Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. gave taxpayer funds to businesses that created jobs in other states, audit finds:
The state’s economic development agency gave nearly half a million dollars to a company that cut more jobs than it created and handed out taxpayer funds to others for jobs in other states, according to a bruising audit released Friday.
In addition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. didn’t recover more than $400,000 in tax credits and more than $4 million in loans it could have when employers didn’t meet the terms of their taxpayer-funded deals, auditors concluded.
The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau comes as the economic development corporation is tasked with overseeing up to $3 billion in state subsidies for Foxconn Technology Group. The Taiwanese electronics maker is eligible for about $1 billion in local incentives as well.
Skeptics for years have criticized the economic development corporation for not staying on top of its duties.
“The inability of WEDC to comply with state statutes and guidelines has put taxpayer funds at risk,” said a statement from Sen. Rob Cowles, an Allouez Republican and co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee.