WISCONSINREPORT.COM (02/05/2010) - Governor Doyle was in Wisconsin Rapids today to sign a bill that will pool federal recovery zone bonds to fund job-creating projects statewide. The Governor signed Senate Bill 440, authored by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), and Assembly Representatives Marlin Schneider (D- Wisconsin Rapids), and Louis Molepske, Jr. (D-Stevens Point), at a ceremony at Energy Composites. The bill will clear the way to fund projects like the company proposed wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Wisconsin Rapids, projected to create 600 jobs.
“I’m glad the governor chose this site to sign SB 440, because it highlights the importance of Energy Composites to the future of the Wisconsin Rapids area, and the importance of this bill in helping create good new jobs statewide,” Senator Julie Lassa said.
“Thanks to President Obama and Congressman Obey, the Recovery Act has given us this powerful tool to create new jobs here in Wisconsin, especially in the emerging clean energy economy,” Governor Jim Doyle said.
“By pooling these resources together, we will make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity and move forward job-creating projects across the state,” Governor Doyle continued.
Governor Doyle thanked Senator Lassa, Representatives Molepske and Schneider, and Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate for their work on the bill.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which became law last February, authorizes counties and local governments to issue tax-exempt conduit bonds, known as Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, for private sector economic development projects prior to the end of this year.
Wisconsin’s total allocation for bonds issued in 2009 and 2010 is approximately $238 million.
However, because the amount of the bonds is divided among Wisconsin’s 72 counties as well as the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay, most counties do not have a large enough allocation to make tax-exempt financing for economic development cost effective.
The authorization for these bond ends Dec. 31 this year.
SB 440 is similar to what other states have done in that it automatically waives unobligated Recovery Zone Facility Bonds into one statewide pool.
Counties and cities that have already obligated all or a portion of their bond allocation for specific projects by June 2010, will keep that allocation.
Any remaining unobligated bonding authority would be waived into the statewide pool. Communities statewide could apply for project bonding.
“It was vital that this provision become law quickly so that shovel-ready projects can move forward and the bond allocations won’t go to waste. I’m glad my legislative colleagues and Governor Doyle recognized the urgency to get this law in place,” Lassa said.
Lassa cited the Energy Composites project as an example of the jobs that will be created thanks to pooling the bond authority.
The company had stated that immediate passage of the bill was necessary for the Wisconsin Rapids-based company to remain on track for its planned first-quarter groundbreaking of a 500,000-square-foot wind-energy component manufacturing plant in the Rapids East Commerce Center.
Sen. Lassa praised Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Mary Jo Carson for her diligent work on the provision, as well as Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink (D-Milladore), who helped shepherd the bill through the committee process in the Assembly.