As reported by Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has committed to paying nearly $1.7 million to four private companies for their assistance in determining whether the state should sell heating and cooling plants and other state-owned properties.
Studying the issue is expected to cost even more. The state is working with four other firms on the matter, but has not finalized contracts with them.
State Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said he was surprised by the costs and thought Department of Administration employees would have been able to do such work.
“Don’t we have anybody on staff that can do that kind of thing?” he said.
Department of Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie said in an email the agency “doesn’t have the expertise to provide the type of analysis that is needed to fully evaluate these assets. We decided to move forward and have independent, outside evaluators come in to provide an unbiased, accurate analysis (of) the assets that we could potentially sell or lease.”
The Walker administration has pushed the idea of selling off state-owned properties as a way to help pay down the state’s $8 billion in debt – debt that has actually grown larger thanks to Gov. Walker’s budgets.
If these efforts by Gov. Walker’s administration to sell state-owned properties are successful, I have no doubt they will be viewed as having been a short-sighted “band aid” on a problem made worse by Gov. Walker’s borrow and spend budget decisions.