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Venture capital bill appears dead this session

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The latest state budget analysis in Wisconsin may have dashed hopes for a compromise on venture capital legislation this floor session.

State lawmakers touted the legislation as a priority for last fall’s session. Venture capital is money provided by investors to startup companies and small businesses. Such investments typically carry high risk but also the potential for high returns.

The Senate effort to draft the legislation, led by Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, got bogged down by months of debate and concerns over how much taxpayer money should be spent to try to boost venture capital for start-up companies and small business, the State Journal reported Tuesday. There was also disagreement over whether programs involving certified capital companies, known as CAPCOs, should be involved.

There was new hope for a compromise bill in December after the office of Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said Assembly leaders had agreed to advance a version of the bill without CAPCOs.

But Republicans are pointing to last week’s analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that found the state would face a budget shortfall of more than $143 million in 2013 because tax revenue is lower than expected.

“Well, in my opinion it is (dead),” Darling said. “We’ve done our homework, we know this is something we want to do, but in my opinion we don’t have the cash right now.”

Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said the new revenue figures would make it difficult for the bill to be enacted.

“Ultimately Gov. Walker is committed to expanding venture capital opportunities in Wisconsin because it will help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow, which has a positive impact on our economy”, he said.

Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, a longtime supporter of efforts to boost venture capital, said the budget analysis is a “convenient excuse” for Republicans.

She told the newspaper that it was disappointing that Republicans in the Senate and Assembly couldn’t reach an agreement on a proposal, saying it could have helped create jobs.

“I think it’s a real loss,” Lassa said.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,

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