MADISON - 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.
"This isn’t just an issue of unaccountability, but shows the desired outcomes of these programs have not been consistently achieved."
The economic development corporation in recent years gave $61,000 to one business for creating 261 jobs that were filled by people in 36 other states, none of them bordering Wisconsin, according to the review.