The board overseeing the state’s flagship job-creation agency has quietly approved a $6 million tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries with a condition allowing the company to eliminate half of its state workforce.
As approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, the award would allow the Arcadia-based global furniture maker to move ahead with a $35 million expansion of its headquarters and keep 1,924 jobs in the state.
But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit, one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.
I’m not entirely sure how the WEDC, the agency Gov. Scott Walker personally oversaw the creation of and which is tasked with economic development (creating jobs) in Wisconsin can justify giving away $6 million in taxpayer dollars to a company while granting that company permission to lay off half its workers in Wisconsin.
As if that’s not bad enough, just two weeks after Scott Walker’s WEDC voted to give Ashley Furniture a $6 million taxpayer handout while allowing Ashley to cut jobs in Wisconsin, the owners of Ashley Furniture donated $20,000 to Gov. Walker’s reelection campaign. Whether you’re a fan of Gov. Walker or not, I would hope we can all agree that there’s something really wrong with the circumstances surrounding Ashley Furniture receiving $6 million in taxpayer handouts and then donating $20,000 to Gov. Walker’s reelection campaign. Pay-to-play certainly comes to my mind, and I know I’m not alone.