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Venture Capital Plan would Exclude Troubled Job Creation Agency

State lawmakers who back the creation of a venture capital fund have changed their original proposal.

It called for a $25 million investment in state funds, combined with private investments, to help startup businesses get off the ground. Under the plan, the state’s job creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), would have hired the fund manager.

However, a plan bill sponsors unveiled on Wednesday would take oversight away from WEDC and instead give it to the state Department of Administration.

WEDC is the public-private agency Gov. Scott Walker created early in 2011, to replace the state Department of Commerce.

WEDC has been plagued by high staff turnover and numerous problems. An audit this spring revealed the agency gave taxpayer dollars to ineligible recipients, and did not properly track loans and grants. After the audit’s release, lawmakers grilled WEDC leaders, and Walker also called an emergency meeting of the WEDC board. The governor is the chairman of the board.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca released a statement on Wednesday, saying the bill sponsors improved the proposal, by “limiting the authority of Gov. Walker’s scandal plagued jobs agency.”

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.