Building Commission deadlocks on Capital Budget

The State Building Commission deadlocked on a 4-4 party-line vote Wednesday as it took up Gov. Tony Evers’ recommendations for building projects in the 2019-21 biennium. As a result  the Capital Budget goes to the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee without a list of recommended projects for the first time in recent memory. The Capital Budget is a separate proposal from the operating budget and provides recommendations for enumeration of various state building projects and maintenance dollars.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to begin deliberating on Evers’ full budget proposal next month, and will likely create its own Capital Budget recommendations before the bill goes to the Assembly and Senate for their approval. After the Legislature votes, Evers must sign the bill for it to become law.

Evers requested $1.1 billion for building projects in the UW System, including about $300 million to cover deferred maintenance in facilities across the System. UW-Madison projects in Evers’ proposal include an addition and renovation to the School of Veterinary Medicine; addition and renovation to Sellery Hall; replacement of the Natatorium; and renovations to Camp Randall and the Kohl Center.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the Building Commission vote does not preclude UW projects from being included in the final budget sent to the governor’s desk. Over the next few months, legislators will negotiate and decide on an acceptable package of projects.

“As the budget bill advances to the Joint Finance Committee, we will redouble our efforts to make the case to legislators why these projects are vitally important to our students and their opportunities at UW-Madison,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said.

UW System President Ray Cross said the State Building Commission vote doesn’t diminish the need for reinvestment in repair and renovation projects throughout the state.

“Over 60 percent of our buildings are between 45 and 70 years old,” Cross said. “The risks to safety, to our maintenance costs, and to Wisconsin’s ability to attract and retain students are only growing. We look forward to continuing to make our case as the full legislature considers these capital projects.”