Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Does Wisconsin Need Two Pro-Business State Departments?

Scott Walker, with the help of his legislative allies early in his administration, remade the Department of Commerce in to a more privatized state agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Even shunted over there a fresh $200 million from the state he said was "broke," so the new agency would have lots of public funding to hand out.

The department's Business Development division's job is in part:
"... to help Wisconsin businesses prosper in a marketplace that is subject to constant change. 

"To accomplish this task, the Division utilizes a combination of technical and financial assistance programs that have been designed to assist businesses at all points of the continuum including: business planning, site selection, initial capitalization, permitting (including environmental), employee training, research and development, business expansion and export development."
You'd think this was enough to support Walker's pro-business position, though the Big Government over-loading to business does cast doubt on the Right's rhetoric about a free market and its claim that government intervention in the economy tends to pick winners and losers.

Now Walker wants to remake the Department of Natural Resources, going even further than the do-over at Commerce by designating the DNR as a charter agency through an Executive Order  - - legal? - - and exempting it from hiring, compensation determinations and other state agency practices to better align  it up with...yes...business development.

Particularly in Northern Wisconsin.

The draft of Walker's remake of the DNR that leaked my way a few days ago says and repeats this justification for the charter approach:

 "Wis. businesses have a responsive and accountable partner in business development;"

Isn't that already the job of the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation?

And does the Secretary of the DNR really need a newly-defined pro-business position in her office:
"A new position in the Secretary's Office...heading an Office of Business Support and Sustainability..."
Basically - - how much Wisconsin government help to corporate sector is enough?

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