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Walker Explains Plan For Lincoln Hills, Fee Hikes For State Parks

Governor Travels Throughout Wisconsin Touting Budget Proposal

Scott Walker
Morry Gash/AP Photo

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget address, given Wednesday at the state Capitol in Madison, focused largely on education and jobs. But Thursday in Milwaukee Walker expanded on other elements of the budget, including his plans to improve two juvenile correctional facilities and increase admission fees at some state parks.

Walker said a state budget plan to put more money into two juvenile correctional facilities near Wausau would improve the sites.

The Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls are the focus of a federal investigation and an ACLU lawsuit over alleged mistreatment of inmates. But the governor’s budget proposal would provide more pay for staff at the schools. Walker said he’s trying to retain and attract good workers.

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“At a time when unemployment is so low and employment is so high, it’s a challenge at any of our public or private to attract employees,” Walker told reporters in Milwaukee Thursday. “We need to be able to attract top-notch employees to fill spots there and at other institutions.”

Walker said his plan to also add nurses at the schools would allow them to administer medication to the youth, instead of having correctional officers do it. Democrats have called for more county-based housing of juvenile inmates, and more crime prevention programs.

On Thursday, Walker also defended a proposed increase in admission and camping fees at some state parks, saying it will help improve the facilities.

Walker also said he does not recommend a boost in hunting and fishing license fees.

The governor’s budget plan would allow the Department of Natural Resources to raise admission and camping fees at some high-demand state parks, including Devil’s Lake and Governor Dodge.

Walker said the parks would still be a good deal.

“It’s one of the most affordable options for a family vacation in the country,” he said. “It continues to be, even with this budget. Couple dollars difference, really. Just goes into making those parks some of the best in the country.”

Walker said he’s proposing not to raise hunting or fishing license fees because the state is “not making enhancements” in those areas.

Some outdoors groups have been asking for higher license fees. Other groups have criticized Walker for previously removing the state parks from state tax funding.