Walker Claims Girl Scout Troops as 'New Businesses'
Short on his promise to create 10,000 new businesses, Walker finds a new measuring stick.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently ran a victory lap in front of his friends at the Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce for reaching his lesser-known campaign promise of creating 10,000 new businesses in his first term.
What Walker didn't tell the audience was that he was judging his accomplishment with his own measuring stick. Most economists will tell you that the most reasonable way to count new businesses would be to use the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) count of new businesses. Walker, in fact, has insisted that QCEW is the "gold standard" when it comes to counting new jobs created and should be the source everyone uses, given the QCEW’s quarterly review of the records of 98% of all businesses in the state. The problem for Walker, though, is that the most recent QCEW's numbers show that he has only created 4,024 new businesses since he took office and that he isn't on pace to hit his pledge of 10,000 new businesses by the end of 2014.
Instead of admitting his shortcoming, Walker searched high and low for a different measuring stick. He discovered that the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (WDFI) keeps track of something called "business entities" created and... voila! ...found that as of August of this year, over ELEVEN THOUSAND new "business entities" had been created since he took office! Cue the victory lap!
The problem with the WDFI numbers is that a great deal of the “business entities” it counts are not, in fact, the "new businesses" that Walker had in mind when he made his pledge. Many are out-of-state corporations that have to file papers in Wisconsin, but have no real physical presense in the state, many are multiple filings for one business, and over 35,000 of the "businesses" Walker is using in his formula are something called "non-stock corporations" which are business-sounding but are actually Little League Teams, Girl Scout Troops, Lions Clubs, and other community organizations or non-profits.
For example, the Montello Little League team organized with the state for the first time on March 3, 2013. Because this was a new "business entity" it went into the list of "new businesses" Walker is claiming he created.
Oh, but it gets better: Within the universe of Little League teams Scott Walker now claims as “businesses,” many didn't even organize for the first time during Walker's time in office. Walker, however, is also counting thousands of "business entities" that for one reason or another fell out of good standing with the state and were then "restored to good standing" and got a "certificate of reinstatement.” These reinstated Little Leagues also count, in Walker world.
Such is the case of the Oak Creek Little League team, which first formed in 1982. At some point, they fell behind in keeping up with their paperwork and were administrative dissolved by the state. However on August 7, 2013 the Oak Creek Little League Team was restored to good standing, was issued a "certificate of reinstatement" and bang: Scott Walker has another "new business."
And we're not just talking Little League teams. The Reedsburg Girl Scout troop, Madison Ping-Pong Club, Waupaca Rotary Club, Columbus Historical Society, Oconto Jaycees, Blue Mound Nordic Ski Club, Clyman Lions Club, Three Rivers Bird Watchers Club, Menomonee Falls Choir Association, and Pepin Yacht Club all are in Walker's list of new businesses created. In fact, in Walker's list of new businesses, he is counting 241 organizations with "club" in the title, 102 with "friends," 75 condo associations, 458 associations (mostly real estate), 360 foundations, 211 churches and over 200 with football, baseball or some other sport in the name.
Where all this is going is anyone's guess, but don't be surprised if Walker makes the next logical step: Counting Girl Scouts, Little Leaguers, and Ping Pong players in his count toward 250, 000 jobs created.