Evers Has Plans For State Surplus In Capital Budget Too

Evers’ plan for “government” building projects set to increase nearly 60%

Relies on Funds Already Committed in Executive Budget

Instead of needed prison in GB, new Camp Randall athletic facilities for the Badgers, ice rink for the Janesville Jets and soccer stadium for expansion franchise in Milwaukee



Mar. 7, 2023 | MacIver News Service


Gov. Evers continued his “go for broke” budget strategy with the release of his $3.8 billion capital budget plan last Wednesday.

This is in addition to Evers’ executive budget, which he released last month. The total price tag on that proposal is $103.8 billion, a $15.5 billion increase from the current capital budget. His new $3.8 billion capital budget seeks to spend $1.4 billion more than the current budget, a 58% increase.

The Republican controlled legislature rejected Evers’ last capital budget for 2021-23, and that was for $2.4 billion. It was the same with Evers’ 2019-21 capital budget for $2.5 billion.


Evers relied heavily on bonding in those previous budgets. He planned to borrow over $2 billion in 2021-23, which came out to 86% of the capital budget. This time he only wants to borrow $866 million, or 23%. He says with a $7 billion surplus, the state doesn’t need to borrow as much to fund his projects.

“With our state in the best fiscal position we’ve ever been in and an unprecedented budget surplus of about $7 billion, we have a responsibility and the opportunity to create prosperity that will define our state for generations, and these capital building projects will do just that,” according to Evers.

Of course, Evers has already allocated that $7 billion surplus (and then some) in his executive budget. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Wisconsin Counties Association on Thursday that budget is a non-starter. Vos said the main problem is that Evers wants to use that one-time money to create ongoing obligations. Ultimately that would result in a $1.5 billion structural deficit in the biennium budget.

“Now we do have an historic opportunity with about $7 billion in our savings account to make one-time investments,” Vos said. “What would be one-time investments worth making? Probably borrowing less money than we ordinarily would, because right now, interest rates are over 4 – 5%.”

That might give Evers capital budget a better shot with the Republican-led legislature than his executive budget, but there are likely to still be friction over priorities. Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) is already asking Evers’ didn’t include a new maximum-security prison in Allouez, part of his district.

“It’s incomprehensible that a governor would ignore a core responsibility of the state – providing safe, secure facilities for inmates under our care,” said Rep. Steffen. “Sadly, Governor Evers has put the wants of the UW football team ahead of the safety and security of the public, state employees, and prisoners.”

Instead of a new prison, Evers proposes spending $25 million in Allouez for a 22,000 sq ft medical facility for the Department of Corrections. Altogether, Evers wants to provide $301 million for the Department of Corrections. He also wants to provide over $122.4 million for capital projects at three mental health institutes.

Meanwhile, UW Madison would get $285 million to build new athletic facilities at Camp Randall, including a new indoor football practice facility, strength and conditioning center facilities, team meeting rooms, a dining hall, and replacing the artificial turf at the McClain Athletic Facility.

That’s part of Evers’ $1.76 billion request just for the UW system. There are other sports entertainment items in the non-state agency requests. Evers wants $15 million for a sports center in Janesville and $9.3 million for a soccer stadium in Milwaukee. (The $290 million grant for the Brewer’s stadium was included in the executive budget).


The $3.8 billion wish list includes other non-governmental projects as well. Evers wants to give $5 million to the Bronzeville Center for the Arts in Milwaukee, $7 million to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, and $1 million to the Peninsula Players Theatre for a dormitory upgrade. The State Historical Society would also get $160.5 million for a new museum.

Milwaukee State Fair Park would get $12.5 million to repair and renovate the cream puff pavilion. The Department of Transportation would get a total of $11.5 million, which would go for a new state patrol facility/DMV in Spooner. (Road projects are covered by the executive budget).

After all the reported problems at the state’s veterans’ homes, Evers would give King $41.5 million to replace its central kitchen and $10 million for power plant repairs. That will do it for the veterans’ homes.

All in all, other than Rep. Steffen, there’s been little reaction from Republican lawmakers over the governor’s capital budget. The Joint Committee on Finance will review it next month.