Wisconsin’s Republican legislators should ask their counterparts in Arizona how selling off state property worked out there

On Tuesday Republican legislators rubber-stamped Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal giving Walker broad authority to sell heating plants, highways and other state property without seeking competitive bids, but added a stipulated that lawmakers must approve any sale.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 to fold the plan for property sales into the state budget, which the Assembly and Senate plan to take up next month. It would then go to Walker, who can make changes with his veto powers. The Legislature and committee are controlled by Walker’s fellow Republicans.

The committee gave Walker most of what he asked for in allowing him to sell state property, but put in a requirement that the committee sign off on the deals. Such sales also would have to be approved by the state Building Commission, which consists of the governor, three state senators, three state representatives and a citizen member.

Under Gov. Walker’s plan, the state could negotiate sales with individual buyers without going through a public bidding process, but the proposal lacks any explanation as to how negotiations with a single buyer could allow for a “competitive and transparent process.”

Before Republican legislators here in Wisconsin rush to rubber-stamp Gov. Walker’s proposal giving himself broad authority to sell off state property, they may want to consult with their counterparts in Arizona, who are now mulling over a proposal to buy back the Arizona State Capitol after selling it to a private real estate company for $81 million in 2009. Arizona Republicans, led by Gov. Jan Brewer, now want to buy back the Arizona State Capitol for $105 million, meaning that Arizona taxpayers will have taken a $24 million hit because Republican lawmakers in that state went for the quick fix privatization “solution” instead of making good decisions that weren’t based on rigid ideology.


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2 thoughts on “Wisconsin’s Republican legislators should ask their counterparts in Arizona how selling off state property worked out there

  1. I try to explain this to conservatives, but whenever something in the government is privatized, it’s often more costly to run it than actually get a profit from it. This has happened with Arizona and Indiana as notable examples to me. Indiana’s private-public toll road for instance.

    There’s also the whole thing about Arizona’s private prison system is more expensive to run too. When it comes to privatizing things, It’s a real mess.

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