Construction industry to lawmakers: Pass governor’s building plan

    Image by Tayeb Mezahdia | Pixabay

    Ahead of a vote Tuesday on Gov. Tony Evers’ capital spending budget for the next two years, a coalition of construction groups, adjacent industries and unions urged the Legislature’s budget committee to endorse the full $2.37 billion package.

    “Considering the abnormally low interest rates for bonding and the allowable use of budget surplus to retire debt early, the state of Wisconsin is in an excellent position to fund and address current capital budget needs,” the participating organizations stated in an open letter to the Joint Finance Committee.

    The capital spending plan sets priorities for state construction projects for 2021-2023. It includes proposals for more than $1 billion to be spent on UW System campuses along with new office spaces for government employees and improvements to correctional facilities and state parks.

    The construction industry letter endorsing Evers’ plan comes after the State Building Commission in March rejected the capital budget on a 4-4 tie vote before sending it to the finance committee. The panel’s four Republican lawmakers voted against endorsing the plan, while its two Democratic lawmakers, Evers and a public member appointed by the governor voted in favor.

    Sixteen organizations joined in the endorsement, which was first reported by WisPolitics. The coalition includes groups representing unionized as well as non-union building contractors, architects, engineers and the major building trades unions. 

    The letter claims that the economic ripple effect of the governor’s capital spending plan “would create roughly 28,440 jobs and generate nearly $4.3 billion of economic activity.

    The Joint Finance Committee met Tuesday to vote on the capital spending proposals.

    Update: The Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines to boost transportation spending by $357.3 million over current law and use more general purpose revenue to cover those costs. The motion, approved 11-4, would borrow $223.6 million to cover transportation costs, compared to the $555.8 million that Gov. Tony Evers had proposed.

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    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.