UPDATE: JFC approves process for selling state properties - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: JFC approves process for selling state properties, double-dipping limits

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The State of Wisconsin could sell just about every property it owns to private entities under a proposal approved by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee Tuesday.

That includes the State Capitol and Camp Randall Stadium.

Republicans say the proposal is simply designed to give the state a way to pay down its debt.  But Democrats say its ripe for corruption, because the sales don't have to go through a competitive bid process.

Originally proposed by Governor Scott Walker, the Joint Finance Committee made one major change to the plan that would allow the sale of state power plants and various other properties.

"We would make the decision whether to sell or lease, or not to sell or lease," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), the Co-Chair of the JFC.

"We're gonna be able to see the terms and conditions.  So, we're gonna see what they're offering to pay, what the terms are," added Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon).

But even though the Joint Finance Committee would have final say on the sales, Democrats say the process would still be far from transparent.

"And I don't know who is waiting in the wings to buy these contracts, if something is behind the curtain that we're not seeing, but this does not smell right to have a no-bid contract for state power plants in the picture," said Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee).

"The no-bid sale of state property, that is what's causing heartburn for people," said Sen. Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse).

While properties such as state parks and state beaches could not be sold, because they are owned by the Department of Natural Resources, Camp Randall Stadium and the State Capitol could be.  But Republicans scoff at that notion.

"There's not a chance this committee would sell the Capitol," said Sen. Darling.  "I mean lets get real."

In another major vote, Republicans approved a measure that changes the rules for double-dipping.  That's the term used for state workers who retire to collect their pension, then go back to work in the public sector to collect a paycheck as well.

The Joint Finance Committee voted to make those retirees wait 75 days before returning to work for the state, as opposed to the current wait time of 30 days.  JFC also voted to limit state retirees to working 1,392 hours per year, or about 26 hours per week in the public sector, while collecting their pension.

"You're coming pretty darn close to a person in a school district being able to work full-time and be able to fit this requirement," said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), the other JFC Co-Chair.

The JFC's plan on double-dipping is a major change from Governor Walker's proposal, which would have limited retired teachers to working just 800 hours per year in public schools and all other retirees to just 1200 hours of work in the public sector.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In a week full of controversial proposals at the State Capitol, the Joint Finance Committee is expected to vote on one Tuesday that would allow the state to sell a variety of properties, such as heating plants and prisons.

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) proposed giving that authority to the Department of Administration and State Building Commission as part of his original budget request.

The Joint Finance Committee is also expected to vote on a proposal from Gov. Walker that would require any "able-bodied adults" receiving FoodShare benefits to work, or receive workforce training, for a minimum 20 hours per week.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will be at today's Joint Finance Committee meeting and will have live reports on 27 News at 5 and 6.

 

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