Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Diane Hendricks interchange" on the way?

This will be brief, as I'm on my lunch hour, but take a look at two press releases and tell me that selling off state property isn't in the plans for Walker Inc.

First came this press release from the Road Builders and their friends yesterday, approving of the major payoff increase in freeway spending in Walker's budget. Note this part.
Some have expressed concerns about the level of proposed bonding, particularly with the future revenue challenges facing the Transportation Fund. To this point, we would like to emphasize several points:

• Approximately 41 percent of all bonding is in the form of Transportation Revenue Bonds, which are repaid with pledged registration fee revenues. Huh? We already spend more than the state takes in for registration fees. And there aren't any increases in fees as far as I know.
• General obligation bonds are being used for the Southeast Freeway Megaprojects and Hoan Bridge only. These are extremely long-­‐life projects that will significantly outlast the life of the bonds.
Bonding for these projects is one way to spread their cost across both present and future users. Of these bonds, $200 million will be retired with proceeds from asset sales, thus eliminating future debt service payments.
WHOA! What asset sales? And those revenues aren't in the budget. Where did the Road Builders come up with this idea?

Here's where. Take a look at what the LFB said about the Walker budget today when it came to asset sales.
Under AB 40, DOA and the Building Commission would generally have similar authority related to the sale or lease of state-owned real property, and the use of the proceeds from the sale or lease of such property. Both DOA and the Commission could sell or lease any state-owned real property, except for specific exemptions (see below), whether or not the property or facility is in use or the agency is required by law to operate the facility. Both would also have authority to sell or lease of state-owned real property under the jurisdiction of the UW System Board of Regents. DOA could only sell property if the sale is approved by the Building Commission. The Building Commission could lease state-owned real property with or without the approval of the agency. AB40 would not provide DOA the explicit authority to lease such property without the agency's approval, although administration officials indicate that it was their intent to allow DOA to do so. The Building Commission could not sell or lease any property after being notified by DOA that an offer for sale or a lease agreement is pending on that property.

Both DOA and the Building Commission would have specific authority to sell or lease state owned heating, cooling, or power plants. (Hi, Mr. Koch!) DOA could not lease such property without agency approval. Also, DOA would have separate authority to contract with any purchaser or lessee of such facilities for the operation of those facilities. Administration officials indicate that it was their intent to allow DOA to contract for the output, rather than the operation, of any leased or sold heating, cooling, or power plants.

The above provisions would essentially allow DOA or the Building Commission to sell most state-owned real property or facilities, including those under the jurisdiction of the UW System Board of Regents and those facilities that are actively being operated or used by an agency. While administration officials indicate they have no plans to do so, these provisions are broad enough that the type of properties that could be sold or leased could include a state highway or bridge, a dormitory facility, or a prison.
And the memo goes on to say that money from these sales do not have to be reinvested in the agency it came from, but could be used for other purposes, such as filling in budget holes in other parts of the budget.

And you thought I was kidding when I mentioned the "Diane Hendricks Memorial Interchange" at I-90 and I-43 in Beloit. It's not a joke, folks. These guys are trying to sell all that the state has to other members of their old boys' and girls' club. And if they do it right, we don't get to have a say about it.

Cool, huh?

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