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Walker administration releases list of public assets it may sell

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin Public Radio

The Walker administration has released a list of state assets it might consider selling, including state-owned power plants throughout Wisconsin.

In addition to the power plants, the list of assets released by Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch includes telecommunications towers statewide, office buildings in Madison and Milwaukee, and an airplane hanger at the Dane County Regional Airport.

Huebsch also announced that the state has hired six financial consultants to help analyze the risks, benefits and costs of selling various assets.

Lawmakers voted to give the state the power to sell off certain assets as part of the last budget. The list and consultants are the next steps in that process. The legislature's Joint Finance Committee and the State Building Commission would still need to approve any final sales.

Building Commission member Gordon Hintz, who is a Democratic state representative from Oshkosh, said his fear is that any asset sales will be short-sighted.

“We have increased our borrowing at the state level and we don't have a lot of revenue options that seem desirable to pay it back,” said Hintz. “I think there's a fear among many that we're going to try to sell off some state assets as a quick fix to try to pay off some of that debt service.”

Huebsch released a written statement saying it was “too early to speculate on the potential sale or lease of any of these properties because the state has just begun the review process.

This is not the first time Republicans have considered selling state-owned power plants. GOP lawmakers were thwarted by then-Governor Jim Doyle about a decade ago.

Gov. Scott Walker also tried without success to sell state-owned power plants just months after taking office.