Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

June 2, 2023

Budget Bulletin: Building Commission, Building Program and Tourism

The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) met on Thursday, June 1, 2023. We completed our work on the Building Commission, Building Program, Public Service Commission and Tourism.
We made the largest investment in the Building Commission and Building Program in history.  We are using one-time funds in our surplus to address necessary maintenance projects and provide funding for impactful new projects while paying down $400 million in debt. We are supporting tourism promotion efforts in a big way by investing in the agency and providing flexibility so they can dedicate the funds to the work they think will make an impact. We have created a $10 million Opportunity Fund for Tourism to make investments that will draw large-scale, major events to Wisconsin.
We made the largest investment in the building program in history. Our total investment is $2,384,186,200 including $1,234,081,900 of cash that takes advantage of our state surplus to complete necessary maintenance and high-impact projects statewide without creating debt. We funded dozens of projects and created two funds: the Local Projects Fund and Inflation Fund to manage cost overruns.
Highlights of our investments include:

  • 12 UW projects worth $953,155,000 all funds projects on campuses across WI including Whitewater, Stout, Oshkosh, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, LaCrosse, Eau Claire, Madison and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Barron, as well as the Camp Randall Sports Center Replacement.
  • State Fair Park Cream Puff Pavilion Renovation
  • Improvements at several DNR facilities, State Parks and Forestry Centers, including fire response facilities.
  • Purchase of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the Capitol Square.
  • Funding to complete the Type 1 Juvenile Correctional facility in Milwaukee County and funding to plan for another Type 1 Juvenile Correctional facility in the future.
  • Improvements at several Correctional Institutions.
  • Improvements at several Health Services facilities.
  • Funding to finish the Wisconsin History Museum project.
  • Dental Clinic Expansion at Children’s Wisconsin.
  • Marquette University – School of Dentistry upgrades.
  • $10 million toward the Versiti Blood Research Center.
  • $7 million toward the Marathon County Forensic Science Center.
  • $3 million toward the Food & Farm Exploration Center.
  • Created a $50 million fund for non-state organizations to apply for funds to assist with local projects. The grants can be up to $4 million and must have a 50% match.
  • Set aside a $20 million fund to address cost overruns caused by inflation.

We are supporting tourism promotion efforts in a big way by investing in the agency and providing flexibility so they can dedicate the funds to work they think will make an impact.  We made a $45.5 million investment in tourism.  This includes $22 million that the Department of Tourism can use for Marketing and Advertising and $10 million for an Opportunity Attraction and Promotion Fund to attract large-scale opportunities to promote Wisconsin in the form of major conferences, conventions, events, etc.
This budget we did not invest new money into broadband. I have been working on rural broadband expansion since 2014.  I fully understand this issue and support our pause in adding state tax dollars to the program. Right now, we know that $1.1 billion is headed to Wisconsin from the federal government for broadband in the very near future.  We also know that there are many projects in the pipeline right now that are under construction or will soon be under construction. Finally, telecommunications providers are telling me that there are capacity concerns about adding projects to this mix right now.
I continue to strongly support rural broadband expansion. I also strongly support making smart decisions about taxpayer dollars and right now we need to determine how the $1.1 billion that is coming from the feds will be spent.  We also need to allow the projects that are in the pipeline to work toward completion and then identify all of our gaps.  We have made tremendous progress and this progress will continue.
As our work on the budget continues, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703. I want to hear from you.