How should state craft venture capital fund?
During the last legislative session, lawmakers passed many bills designed to stir job creation. They left gaping holes in the puzzle, however. One key missing piece is a venture capital fund. The lack of one puts Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage.
State Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, believes he can take a lead role in writing legislation that might be ready when the Legislature reconvenes next year. He’s chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Venture Capital, which heard testimony during a six-hour public hearing Thursday.
Cullen says many speakers supported funding either from general-purpose revenue or borrowed dollars. They backed “firewalls” to protect the fund from politics. And they agreed that public money should be doled out only if private money is invested first.
The sticking point for lawmakers last time around was whether the fund should involve CAPCOs, or certified capital companies. These out-of-state companies lobbied for inclusion, but our state’s history shows they lack accountability.
Are these speakers on the right track? Should the state use general purpose money or borrow money to pad such a fund? How can taxpayer dollars best be protected? And why is venture capital so crucial to fostering economic development?
We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Sunday.