Michael Leland / WPR News
Republicans on the legislature's budget committee have approved a plan that would allow for the sale of state-owned property .
Such property includes roads, prisons, college dormitories, or even the State Capitol.
Governor Scott Walker added the plan to the budget ostensibly to allow for the sale of state-owned power plants, a move long sought by many Republicans. But the proposal was written broadly enough that there would be nothing preventing the state from selling a wide range of property, including the Capitol.
Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) questioned who stood to benefit, saying the plan did not smell right: "The scope of this is breathtaking. It is huge."
Republicans did change the governor's plan to require all sales of state property to be approved by the legislature's budget committee first. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) is the committee's co-chair: "There's not a chance that this committee would sell the Capitol. Let's get real."
The GOP plan would require cost-benefit analyses of any sales of property before they happen - a protection Darling said would make sure the state's interests were protected: "Who would sit on this committee and make a decision that's not in the best interest of the state?"
But Rep. Richards said that even if the lawmakers who sit on the budget committee today would keep the state's interests in mind, there's no telling how a future legislature might act. He said it could come to a head the next time the state's facing a budget shortfall: "It's very possible for someone to come up and say 'Yes, state of Wisconsin, I know you're in a jam, I can help you with that jam and here's a wad of cash."
Republicans made one other change to the governor's plan, voting to prohibit the sale of state-owned property that's at least 50 percent funded from the federal government or from gifts or grants.