Walker tax credits going to companies that layoff more workers than they hire is equally troubling.
By Greg Neumann
62 people in Walworth County will lose their jobs by the end of the year despite the fact that their company has received [hundreds of] thousands of dollars in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
27 News first reported on the layoffs last Thursday, which will be complete when HyPro Inc. shuts down its Whitewater manufacturing plant in November.
WEDC has awarded $262,589 in job creation and retention tax credits to HyPro since since 2013. But based on WEDC records, the company has seen a net job loss since then.
A notice sent from HyPro to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development stated the closing of the Whitewater plant is due to consolidation within the company. HyPro is based in Waterford but also has factories in Berlin, Platteville and Rhinelander that make parts for assembly lines.
According to WEDC’s own database, HyPro has retained over 200 jobs since 2013 but has created only two new positions.
Neither WEDC nor HyPro officials have responded to questions from 27 News about whether or not any of the tax credits handed out went to job retention or creation efforts at the Whitewater plant
In an email statement, WEDC spokesman Steven Michels wrote, “WEDC tax credits are earned for the creation and retention of HyPro employees throughout Wisconsin. We will closely evaluate their employment levels and upon receipt of their annual performance report determine if they have met their contractual obligations.”
Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) recently introduced legislation that would require companies who receive money from WEDC - and then outsource Wisconsin jobs - to be prohibited from receiving future funds.
While there is no indication HyPro is outsourcing any Wisconsin jobs, Sen. Hansen said tax credits going to companies that layoff more workers than they hire is equally troubling.
“If it’s not Eaton for the third time taking jobs out of the country on our dime or other companies taking $260,000 as this one did - and then laying off a bunch of people - it’s just been one downward spiral totally with WEDC and it’s been a failure,” said Sen. Hansen.
Thousands in donations to Walker
Before HyPro ever received any money from WEDC, campaign finance records show company officials were consistent donors to Scott Walker, who stepped down as Chairman of the WEDC Board in May. From 2005 to 2014, HyPro executives donated $6,850 to Walker’s campaigns for Milwaukee County Executive and then Governor.
The WEDC database shows the company plans to add 80 jobs in Wisconsin in 2016, but does not provide details on where those jobs will be located.
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will meet to review WEDC’s policies and performance at a meeting at the State Capitol at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday.