Claims in the Mary Burke-Scott Walker race about business growth

The growth in new businesses and the use of tax breaks in the pursuit of business growth have led to several claims from Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke that we’ve checked on the Truth-O-Meter.

One of Walker’s campaign promises also comes into play.

* * *

Under Scott Walker, "right now, we’re 46th in the country in terms of new businesses started."  

-- Mary Burke, in a Sept. 22, 2014 interview

Mostly True: Wisconsin actually ties for 45th in the well-known Kauffman index, in terms of new business owners in their first month of significant business activity.

* * *

Since I took office, "Wisconsin ranks 11th in the nation in total business establishment growth compared to 47th in the years Mary Burke was Commerce secretary."

-- Scott Walker, in a Sept. 14, 2014 news release

True: The numbers, though not covering Walker’s complete time as governor, are the latest available and support Walker’s statement.

* * *

Scott Walker "gave $6 million in tax breaks to a corporation and told them that they can keep that money even if they lay off half their workforce."

-- Burke, in an Oct. 24, 2014 campaign email

Half True: The board of Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. approved $6 million in tax credits to aid an expansion of Ashley Furniture by building a flood-control project in the city where the furniture maker is headquartered. If Ashley did lay off half its workforce, the credits could still remain in place, but since they would be used for a flood-control project, it’s not as though the company could "keep the money."

* * *

"Scott Walker gave Wisconsin job creation money to his cronies: corporate friends who contributed to his campaigns" and got $570 million in job-development incentives

-- Greater Wisconsin Committee on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 in a campaign TV ad

False: The list of companies that won $570 million and gave to Walker is a starting point for trying to spot instances in which a true Walker crony got a sweet deal. But that’s all it is. Much of that money went to firms whose employees have given to Democrats in the past. Many of the donations were small, and Walker’s jobs agency has a limited role in dealing with firms associated with a big chunk of the $570 million.

* * *

Walker promise to add 10,000 new businesses in four years

In the Works: The governor’s preferred measuring stick -- the total number of registered business entities in the state -- had grown by more than 25,000 by August 2014. But that includes not only new ventures that bring new jobs, but thousands with no workers on the payroll at all -- and little if any prospect of hires to come. By an alternative measure -- new locations opened by businesses -- he still has a chance to reach 10,000.

Also in this series: Income and wagesjobstaxes and state budget, education, higher education and miscellaneous items.