Walker says he would support measure to keep companies that get state money from outsourcing

Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he would support efforts to ensure that tax credits and other economic development incentives do not go to companies that outsource jobs.

Walker has made outsourcing an issue in the governor's race by criticizing Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke for profiting from outsourcing done by her family's company, Trek Bicycle Corp. But the Republican governor has received campaign donations from multiple companies that outsourced jobs, according to campaign finance reports.

Before a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board meeting in Wauwatosa, Walker said he supported Rep. Peter Barca's call for measures to keep economic development incentives from going to companies that outsource jobs.

"From our standpoint, it's fine. We're going to focus on making this state a proactive state in terms of helping companies grow here, and for those that have (outsourced) in the past, to bring jobs back from other places like they announced here," Walker said.

The governor spoke to reporters at Briggs & Stratton, which recently announced that it would add more than 200 jobs at its headquarters in Wisconsin as it closed a plant in Georgia and consolidated operations. The company makes lawn tractors, snow throwers and other small machines.

"We're pleased that we've created the kind of environment where companies like Briggs & Stratton and others feel comfortable adding jobs," Walker said.

Walker declined to say whether he would support a ban on incentives to companies that outsourced years or even a decade before applying for state aid, saying he wanted to see what Barca would propose.

Barca, a Kenosha Democrat who sits on the WEDC board, said later he would propose that the agency require companies receiving incentives to inform the agency if they outsource jobs. Barca said he believed most incentives would then end, given existing WEDC rules.

Barca said WEDC also should require companies applying for incentives to vouch for the fact that they would not move forward with their project without the tax credits, grant or other aid. The companies also should have to let the state know if anything about the project changed after the incentives were awarded, he said.

WEDC CEO Reed Hall declined to comment on outsourcing done by companies that previously received state aid, saying it had become a campaign issue and he needed to remain neutral.