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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

 2:27 PM 

Barca slams GOP for inaction and United Sportsman grant controversy; Kramer pushes back

We're technically on debate for a relatively uncontroversial bill the allows adopted residents to add their birth parents names to their birth certificate. However, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca used his first speech of the floor period to say Republicans are not being bold in their aims for job creation.

Barca said in the last three-and-a-half months, only two of the seven Assembly committees regarding job creation and workforce development have met and that while Gov. Scott Walker's proposed workforce development package are all good ideas, there need to be more ideas brought up.

"Instead of seven bills, let's have 17 bills," Barca said, referencing Walker's package. "Better yet, let's have 27 bills."

Barca indicated his party would pull two bills to the floor from Dems that are focused on creating jobs.

Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer first took issue with the job numbers, pointing to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's statistics showing Wisconsin with one of the best economic growth rates in the nation.

"I just couldn't stand here after hearing that last bit from the other side of the aisle," Kramer said. "When we left in June, the Philly fed numbers were the gold standard, but now that we're on the top, they're not reliable."

Barca and other Dems came back and noted that the Philly Fed has said those numbers were never meant to be used for ranking purposes.

Barca also criticized the GOP for allegedly dodging the issue of the Sporting Heritage Grant Program, which has been the subject of controversy due to allegations the measure was inserted into the budget by former Assembly Speaker Scott Suder to specifically benefit the United Sportsman of Wisconsin Foundation.

The group came under scrutiny when it was discovered the group was not a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and lawmakers raised questions about its ability to carry out the educational and training goals of the program. While it appeared the Department of Natural Resources would award the grant to USW, who was the sole applicant, they later rescinded the grant at the behest of Gov. Scott Walker.

Barca highlighted reporting that showed the Walker administration knew the grant award could put federal funding in jeopardy and said GOP inaction given that knowledge was "unacceptable."

"That's not what this state is about," Barca said. "it's always been about clean, transparent and open government and we have slipped so far."

Kramer pointed out a range of environmental groups who applied for seemingly non-competitive grants from the Department of Natural Resources while their non-profit status had lapsed.

"Maybe what we should be looking at is all of these grants," Kramer said.

UPDATE: Kramer's office provided documents they're referring to, showing River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, River Revitalization Foundation and a range of other groups who received statutory grants from the DNR while they were found to be delinquent" according to the Department of Financial Institutions. We'll post those documents later today.

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