Wisconsin (WQOW) - Governor Scott Walker is recommending spending $803 million on state building projects over the next two years, more than half of which would be borrowed.
The new capital budget prioritizes investing in existing facilities and limiting new construction. However, some notable projects in the Eau Claire area did not make the list.
The governor recommended deferring UW-Eau Claire's request for a more than $19 million renovation and addition to Governors Hall.
A $63.5 million renovation and addition to UW-Eau Claire's Haas Fine Arts Center was also recommended to be pushed off for review in the next budget.
Mike Rindo, UW-Eau Claire's Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations, said Haas Fine Arts Center and Governors Hall have not undergone a comprehensive renovation and are in need of major improvements.
"We agree with this statement issued by UW System President Ray Cross regarding the UW Regents 2017-19 Capital Budget Recommendations: 'We developed a reasonable capital budget plan to perform a limited amount of work each year at a steady pace. The longer we delay these critical repairs, the more it ultimately costs students and taxpayers in the end.'
We hope to work with the Governor and legislature in the months ahead to help ensure we have adequate and refurbished teaching and living space for our students. ”
The governor also denied a $2 million request from the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association for help buying land and building a new Hmong cultural center.
None of these recommendations are set in stone. The building commission will meet to vote on the projects' futures in March.
On Tuesday, Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) issued a statement following Governor Walker's recommendations to the Wisconsin Capital Budget:
“The projects that Governor Walker recommended to defer in the Capital Budget prove once again that he would rather place the burden of building and maintaining our state’s infrastructure on the shoulders of future generations. Like our crumbling roads and bridges, state buildings are outdated and in many cases failing. The point of a solid building program is to serve the people of Wisconsin in a safe and efficient manner. Unfortunately, this capital budget is the victim of disastrous budgeting over the past six years.”
“This style of delayed budgeting isn’t fiscally or structurally sound. Delays now will mean increased costs for future maintenance, renovation, or new construction. These outdated facilities are inefficient and fail to perform their intended duties. Also, the Governor’s failure to adequately fund our roads has put us in this difficult position. Now, we have crumbling roads and old, inefficient buildings. We must be adults and fix these issues before we face major catastrophes or rack up massive bills that future generations will have to deal with.”