Evers’ capital budget calls for $2 billion in new borrowing
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers released a capital budget proposal Thursday that calls for borrowing another $2 billion for multiple construction projects across the state, including the conversion of the state’s troubled youth prison into an adult facility, new housing for juvenile inmates, a new state office building in Milwaukee and upgraded buildings across the University of Wisconsin System.
The proposal must pass both the state building commission and the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.
Evers’ office said in a news release that the capital budget recommendations “aggressively and responsibly address deferred maintenance and life safety issues in state-owned buildings and provide suitable and safe facilities to support institutions of higher education and other important agency programs that were neglected in recent budgets.”
Aides for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement the level of spending and borrowing in the plan is “alarming” especially given tax increases in Evers’ state budget proposal. That separate spending plan calls for raising the gas tax by 8 cents per gallon and capping tax credits for manufacturers.
The plan calls for $10.2 million in new borrowing to build a new minimum-security adult institution at the Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake youth prison outside Irma. The facility would be large enough to accommodate 575 inmates, helping alleviate overcrowding across the state prison system. As of March 1, the system housed 23,746 inmates, nearly 5,000 inmates over capacity.
The FBI is currently investigating allegations of widespread abuse at the youth prison. Former Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill last year that mandates the prison close by 2021 and the inmates move to regional facilities. The bill lays out $25 million in borrowing to construct such facilities.
Evers wants to indefinitely delay closing the prison until the regional facilities are ready. The capital budget calls for an additional $90 million in borrowing to select sites for three new facilities, design them and construct them.
Also in the budget is a request for $98.5 million in additional borrowing to build a new state office building and parking structure in Milwaukee. The new building would replace the existing 55-year-old office building and would house branches of the departments of Administration, Children and Families, Health Services, Revenue, Workforce Development and Public Instruction.
The budget designates $900 million in new borrowing for UW System projects.
According to the spending plan, $300 million in borrowing would go to a new effort dubbed the System-wide Major Facilities Renewal Program. The program would fund repairs and renovations at academic facilities based on need. System regents and the building commission would have to sign off on specific projects.
About $38 million would go toward upgrading classrooms across the system with new technology. Another $130 million would cover construction of a new biochemistry facility at UW-Milwaukee.
Other UW System projects include:
–$68 million in borrowing, $3 million in gifts and $6.6 million in cash to renovate UW-Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium. The project would replace half the bleachers in the south end zone with club space and reconstruction of other seating, visiting locker room and media center. The north facade of the adjoining field house would be restored.
–$34 million in borrowing, $10 million in gifts and $4.1 million in cash to renovate parts of the Kohl Center at UW-Madison, including additional space for studying and strength training as well as expanding locker rooms.
–$91 million in borrowing and $34 million in gifts to demolish UW-Madison natatorium and build a new recreational center on the site.
–$35 million in borrowing and $5.7 million in student fees to renovate the UW-Milwaukee student union.
–$78 million in borrowing and $4.8 million in building trust funds to finish work on a new science hall at UW-La Crosse.
–$93 million in borrowing, $2 million in cash and $13.7 million in gifts to build the first phase of a new science building and demolish two dorms at UW-Eau Claire.
The budget also calls for $70 million in borrowing and $30 million in gifts to demolish the existing Wisconsin Historical Museum on Madison’s Capitol Square and build a new one on the site. Construction would not begin until the state Historical Society has raised the $30 million in gifts.
The state also would borrow $30 million to help with a $90 million expansion of the Alliant Energy Center’s exposition hall in Madison.