Walker ready to work with lawmakers on venture capital bill

Gov. Scott Walker said he’d like to work with lawmakers on a structure for a venture capital fund before putting it in the state budget he’ll unveil next month.

If that doesn’t happen, Walker said he’d be inclined to continue working on an outline for such a fund with lawmakers before plugging it into the budget later in the process.

Walker told reporters Tuesday his fear is if the fund was put into the budget without a prior agreement, lawmakers may grab the money and use it for other priorities.

“If they agreed on a process, there would then be a number to draw,” Walker said after addressing the Wisconsin Technology Council Board of Directors.

Walker said there isn’t a “magic number” needed to put into a venture capital fund, though a minimum of $25 million to $30 million was likely needed.

Walker told board members they could best help creation of a venture capital program by persuading lawmakers on how their districts could benefit.

Walker said the issue can be challenging because many lawmakers see a venture capital program as most likely to benefit Madison or Milwaukee, and their immediate instinct is to prefer putting that money into an income tax cut or school funding because they see a tangible benefit for their constituents.

But Walker said there are numerous local businesses that have projects that could benefit from such a fund, and lawmakers need to know that.

“You’ve got to make it connect to things in their districts,” Walker said.