Madison (AP) - The head of a semi-private state development agency that offered, and then rescinded, tax credits to a Wisconsin company contingent upon it winning a multimillion dollar state contract said Friday he believes the proposal was legal.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation leader Paul Jadin told The Associated Press his legal team advised him that the offer to Skyward Inc. was allowed because the year-old agency isn't bound by procurement laws that forbid bid-rigging.
"It was indicated that we could make a contingency offer," Jadin said in his first public remarks on the controversy since it came to a head earlier this month. "We're satisfied that we could make the offer."
Others in state government didn't see it that way, and Democrats on Friday issued their most forceful criticisms of the deal to date, calling it sleazy and illegal.
In creating WEDC, the Legislature did not specifically exempt it from having to follow state procurement law. That law does not allow giving preferential treatment to a company bidding on a state project. Many other semi-private entities similar to WEDC are identified in the law as being exempt.
"The laws and regulations of the state of Wisconsin are put in place to ensure honest government, free from corruption," Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "At the very least, the Scott Walker administration has not followed these laws."
And Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey of Madison, who tried to stop WEDC from being created last year citing problems with similar semi-private agencies in other states, said what happened here is "sleazy, unaccountable stuff."
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says the state's semi-private economic development agency will put new safeguards in place after it offered tax breaks to a Wisconsin company contingent on it winning a state bid.
Walker told members of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board at its Thursday meeting that from now on WEDC will ask companies if they are submitting or intend to submit a bid for state work before offering them incentives.
Walker calls that a good step at increasing internal control.
Procedures of the agency have come under question after it made a tax break offer to information systems company Skyward in March, then rescinded it earlier this month after Walker's administration raised questions because the company was bidding on a $15 million state project.
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