UPDATE: Lawmaker introduces outsourcing accountability bill after 27 News story on Eaton Corp.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) announced Wednesday he is drafting legislation that would ban companies from receiving taxpayer assistance if they are found to have outsourced jobs after receiving state aid.
"Our bill is in response to what Channel 27 in Madison and other people have talked about, which is we give millions of dollars to corporations and they take that money and take those jobs and send them overseas or to Mexico or wherever," Sen. Hansen told WBAY-TV in Green Bay Wednesday.
27 News reported Monday that the Eaton Corporation is outsourcing 93 jobs from its Watertown facility to Tijuana, Mexico, despite receiving $369,307 in job creation tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
It is the second time Eaton Corp. has outsourced Wisconsin jobs after receiving state dollars. In July 2014, 27 News reported that both Eaton Corp. and Plexus Corp. had outsourced jobs overseas after receiving WEDC tax credits.
"And with Eaton - first time they took the money and they outsourced. And then they gave them more money a second time? And they outsourced, so it's like, when is enough enough?," asked Sen. Hansen.
The bill will call for any company that outsources jobs while receiving state aid to be banned from getting any future aid for five years.
"And we set up a council modeled after the Unemployment Advisory Council where you'd have an equal number of labor and business and they would decide what outsourcing is," said Sen. Hansen, who hopes the bill could get bipartisan support.
Rep. Rob Hutton sits on the WEDC board and while he stopped short of supporting the Hansen bill, he believes concerns about the agency's practices need to be heard.
"And to really make sure that we have tightened up any loose ends that have caused the concern and perception relative to WEDC and some of the issues that have been taking place over the last couple of years," said Rep. Hutton, who is writing legislation to merge WEDC and WHEDA - the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority - at the request of Gov. Walker.
WEDC officials told 27 News they already have measures in place to ensure outsourcing does not take place, including clawback provisions outlined in all contracts stating money can be taken back from companies that don't meet their job creation or retention goals.
The WEDC board also approved a policy requiring companies to certify they wouldn't use WEDC funds to outsource jobs and that they would notify WEDC if they reduced their workforce for that reason.
But Sen. Hansen believes it is now clear those policies aren't preventing the outsourcing.
"There's supposed to be a clawback provision with WEDC, but they have never implemented it," said Sen. Hansen.
The outsourcing accountability bill is being drafted and will then be sent out for co-sponsorship.
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