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Budget measure would have lawmakers approve any sale of state-owned property

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin lawmakers would have to approve any sale of state-owned property, under a budget measure endorsed Tuesday by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

On a 12-4 vote, Republicans modified Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to let him sell state buildings, heating plants, and highway property to help reduce the state’s debt.

The panel agreed to prohibit selling any state facility in which at least half the cost was donated or federally-funded.

That was meant to address concerns from the UW System, which feared that donors for future buildings would disappear because there’s a chance their gifts could be sold off someday.

UW Madison Foundation leader Michael Knetter said the new measure would create an uncertainty that’s, “the enemy of investment.”

The UW says only four buildings at Madison would be banned from a future sale – the Health Sciences Learning Center, the schools of nursing and pharmacy, and a bio-tech addition.

Competitive bids would not have to be sought. Some Democrats said that even the State Capitol could be peddled, to which GOP co-chair Alberta Darling replied, “Let’s get real.”

Officials say their first sales will be for highway right of way land that the state doesn’t need anymore.

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