UPDATE: Budget committee delivers victory for Skyward
MADISON (WAOW) -
The Wisconsin Legislative Joint Finance Committee has delivered what appears to be a big win for Stevens Point company Skyward.
The committee voted to change how the state contracts for a statewide student information system. It will essentially undo a contract won by a Minnesota company to run that system. That means multiple companies including Skyward could provide the services.
Both Democrats and Republicans say the move will help keep the company and its 290 jobs in Wisconsin.
"Some would say that yes, we would see some savings with a single party vendor," said State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa). "But when you look at the amount of cost in the jobs and other economic development in Central Wisconsin by losing Skyward, those costs were greatly outweighed by the disadvantage of losing a good company."
"This way it will help schools continue to work with the vendors that they are happy with, it will help save taxpayers money, and obviously it will help to keep good-paying jobs in the state of Wisconsin," added State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point).
Skyward vice president Ray Ackerlund says the company is "very excited about what happened."
Meanwhile, the president of the company told Newsline 9 the news gives employees new hope.
"We didn't start high-fiving until the 14-2 vote was read and at that time there was a lot of excitement here at Skyward," said President Scott Glinski. "Everyone walked out of Skyward today with a big smile on their face."
But he acknowledged this is only the first step in a long process. This change still needs to pass the full Assembly and State Senate and then receive Gov. Scott Walker's approval.
Gov. Walker supports the single-vendor approach. His spokesman would not say if he will veto the provision added the budget.
Krug and Lassa both told Newsline 9 they expect the change to the multi-vendor approach will survive votes in the Assembly and State Senate, and that the governor will ultimately sign it.
But Infinite Campus company officials in Minnesota call the committee's action "outrageous."
"It tells prospective bidders they can use the political process to get a different outcome if a procurement doesn't go their way," said Infinite Campus COO Eric Creighton in a statement. "Companies expect, and taxpayers demand fair, open and transparent procurements. If a company doesn't like the results of a state procurement, then they should follow the formal legal appeal process, and not resort to strong-arm political tactics to get their way."
Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Administration, said, "In 2011, the legislature decided upon a single-vendor model for the system, and we will review the potential impact of today's vote."