Monday, June 8, 2015

GOP lawmakers choose to shoot the messenger in plan to abolish Audit Bureau

Instead of fixing problems at WEDC, legislators want to destroy the agency that exposed legitimate problems

Scott Walker’s flagship jobs creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, has had many noticeable and embarrassing problems since it was first put into place.

Many of the issues, including excessive and questionable loans to companies that have donated large sums of money to Gov. Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, have made it abundantly clear that the WEDC is in dire need of oversight.

The Legislative Audit Bureau, a nonpartisan government board that has overseen state agencies since 1965, brought to light many of the controversies and problems associated with the WEDC.

To reward this exemplary work, to ensure that the LAB continues to oversee excessive and egregious spending of taxpayer dollars, the Republicans in the state legislature...plan to completely dismantle the agency.

Wait, what?

Two Republican state representatives, David Craig of Big Bend and Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake, are circulating a proposal among their colleagues that seeks to eliminate the LAB and replace it with a new auditing agency.

The bill as it’s currently being discussed, according to Democratic State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, would put the direction of what gets audited and when in the hands of the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader -- effectively making the nonpartisan LAB into an entirely partisan entity, only auditing when one of those two members deem it necessary.

The current purpose of the LAB is to maintain “effective oversight of state operations,” and to make “recommendations for improvements in agency operations” as problems arise.

How confident can we be that any new agency, which will derive its auditing methods from politically-driven individuals, could be effective in making government more transparent?

The catalyst for this change seems to stem from the LAB’s recent audits of the WEDC. Rather than react to negative information on how the fledgling WEDC is performing, Republicans are instead choosing to shoot the messenger by abolishing the LAB itself.

They’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken -- a fact that even Republicans seem to acknowledge in their email about the proposal.

“Most if not all legislators believe the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) does a tremendous job of executing audits of state agency books,” reads an email from Craig and Jarchow.

So it works fine. Why change it?

The answer is simple to anyone willing to read between the lines.

It’s payback.

The LAB, which is duty-bound to provide oversight to ALL state agencies, found problems with Gov. Walker’s flagship jobs program. Not just a tiny thing here, a small issue there, but massive problems that needed drastic attention.

This is accountability in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin? This is how we solve problems?

Here's an even better question, one that I hope you the reader will answer:

Are you happy that your tax dollars could be spent this way?

1 comment:

  1. This is very similar to what Republicans were doing in Texas in moving the "public integrity unit" which investigates ethics violations away from Travis County (Austin). Just another case of stacking the deck.