Scott Walker Plans To Sell Off Many Of Wisconsin’s University Buildings, Prisons

Critics believe that the plan is short-sighted and could result in the loss of future donations made to public universities.
By @MMichaelsMPN |
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    Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has recently introduced plans to sell off large holdings includings state prisons and public university buildings. (Photo / Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

    Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has recently introduced plans to sell off large holdings, including state prisons and public university buildings. (Photo / Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

    Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) continues to chip away at the public sector in the Badger State, recently introducing plans to sell off large public holdings such as state prisons and university buildings. The plan could save the state millions of dollars, allowing the government to slash its $8 billion debt.

    Walker has set his sites on the University of Wisconsin (UW) system, a network of 13 four-year campuses with about 1,900 buildings valued at roughly $11.5 billion.

    Buildings constructed with student fees or donations for the improvement of campus life could be taken from public ownership and sold off. One of the biggest losses could be student unions, a key area on any university campus.

    Critics believe that the plan is short-sighted and could result in the loss of future donations made to public universities, especially the system’s flagship campus in Madison.

    “I think it’s foolish, mindless and will have a very chilling effect on fundraising,” said Milwaukee businessman Sheldon Lubar, a donor who gave millions of dollars to help build academic buildings at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

    The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports, “Under Walker’s new plan, the state Building Commission, which consists of the governor, three state senators, three state representatives and a citizen member, would have wide latitude to sell state properties.”

    Since entering office in 2011, Walker has continuously sought to slash public spending by partially privatizing the state Department of Commerce and undoing mandatory sex education. For critics, the cuts mean less funding for critical social programs that help the state’s 5.7 million residents.

    “They want further expansion of voucher schools — even if it means cutting more funding from public schools,” writes Jack Craver, an opinion writer for the Capital Times.

    The proceeds from these sales would be used first to pay off any remaining debt on the properties. Any leftover money would then be used to pay down other state debt.

    “I really don’t think [Walker] thought this through and understands the negative impact this would have on the university,” said Lubar, who served on the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents from 1991 to 1998.

    The Memorial Union at UW-Madison could be sold and no longer controlled by the university. Student unions, built with student fees, are central to student life, as are residence halls that also potentially could be sold under the governor’s proposal, said Matt Guidry, communications director for United Council of UW Students.

    Many Democratic legislators oppose Walker’s plan, leading some to believe that there may be a compromise in works.

    “Legislators have told us that selling these buildings isn’t their intent,” Guidry said. “We believe that’s their intent today, but the next person down the road may feel differently.”

    One of the most hotly debated provisions would allow the Building Commission to sell the state’s heating, cooling and power plants. Wisconsin currently owns 33 facilities, most of which provide steam and chilled water to UW campuses, prisons, health institutions and veterans homes.

    The plan could actually lead to higher day-to-day costs — such as buying power and steam to heat prisons and dorms — after it sells the properties.

    The plan is in keeping with Walker’s history of privatization and staunch fiscal conservatism. Walker previously gained national attention for legislation February 2011 that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.

    Over 100,000 union members protested in the state capitol, leading to a recall election. Walker survived the recall, propelled by large donations that allowed him to outspend challenger Tom Barrett by more than $27 million.

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      • MiamiEddy

        Governor Scott Walker. why did the Office of Unnatural Resources Director, Jennifer Niemyers send, 9 storm trooper and 4 deputy sheriffs go to a Catholic no-kill animal shelter Society Saint Francis to remove a helpless fawn and kill it??? I think the slaughter of this poor little helpless fawn Giggles really sucks. I think you need to stay out of Catholic no-kill animal shelters worry about rest of the Wisconsin’s problem.. Get control of Jeffifer Niemyers and her Office of Unnatural Resources.

      • Kathy Nevala

        I just read this and think it is a good idea to sell buildings etc, to pay off debts the govt. has. In our days so many new schools were built and empty buildings got left which were in good shape. Always new schools etc. and more money with taxes then to build. Also I wish people would think of ways like the mines etc. to help all. God put the resources in the ground for us people. So many arguments right and wrong and not enough sound compromising. Good Luck to you Gov. Walker. Kathy Nevala

      • nhdogmom

        despicable

      • Eric D

        Wisconsinites…..you had a second chance to get that sunna of bitch OUT of office. And you didn’t. With ALL the indisputable evidence regarding the Koch’s and Diane Hendrick, U still reelected the jerk. This is hard to comprehend Wisconsinites. It’s like reap what you sow…..

      • anotherwhiner

        It’s the “I just discovered ebay” syndrome.
        Most
        ebay newbies elated at the “free money” they find by listing things for
        people to bid on, begin with personal items of their own. They’re
        usually heard proclaiming, “Hey, I MADE $xxxxx selling stuff on ebay.”
        Mind you, they wake up one day realizing they have nothing left to sell.
        Not only does the high quickly wear off but a realization begins to
        set in that they actually liked and needed some of that stuff they no
        longer have. Takes a rocket scientist to run a state sometimes…..

      • Erica Franz

        Apparently no one in his close group has informed Scott Walker of Arizona’s governor who sold off the STATE CAPITOL BUILDING among others, and now plans to buy it back for more than they sold it for (obviously) to avoid paying the steep price to rent it. Of course he initially did it to help with the state’s debt… way to not see that one biting him in the butt. Guess it’s catching on? Geez.

      • MikeMovedOutofGreenBay

        Raised in Wisconsin… Lived there my whole life. Love the packers, love the people, hate how mismanaged it was. I’m so glad I moved out of Wisconsin. I’ll return for vacations but never to live again

        • BackspinBubba

          I feel the same way about Arizona…

      • Scott Redner

        Hey there’s nothing wrong with private prisons… I mean it’s ok to profit off of prisoners right? Sickening… This country is headed right to the shitter.

        • http://twitter.com/gaquitaine Gentil Aquitaine

          The privatization of prisons is the scariest aspect of what guys like Walker are doing. I suppose next we will be getting corporate police, a corporate military, and so forth.

          • ckhcorp

            even scarier is the fact that the CCA wants to be guarenteed 90% occupied prison, or else they will lose money.

          • AntiTeaBagger

            of course, the irony would be monumental if Walker himself ended up in a “private” prison on a relatively minor campaign fraud, but to never see the light of day again.

        • jim—

          Read about private prisons and the judges in jail convicted of kickbacks for sending people to those prison in Pennsylvania. For private, for-profit prisons to make any money, they need prisoners.

      • Proartist

        Privatization of the public sphere for obscene levels of personal profit began long ago … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iW1SHPgUAQ

      • Vicki

        He will probably pocket quite a chunk. Should have been recalled.

      • Daniel Lambert

        So Scott Walker is a real-estate agent now? Wonder what his commission fees will be?

        • And I thougth Kasich was bad

          Apparently $27 million.

      • T.

        What Prisons???

      • P Gustaf

        “I really don’t think [Walker] thought this through and understands the negative impact this would have on the university,”

        Wrong. That negative impact is a feature, not a bug. Walker knows exactly what he’s doing. He won’t be happy until the state is owned by corporations.

        • http://twitter.com/gaquitaine Gentil Aquitaine

          It never occurred to me that Scooter Walker was paid to ‘think’ in the first place. He takes his marching orders, bows, tips his hat and carries out whatever his corporate masters have in mind. He will make splendid butler when he is out of office.