Capital Budget 2023-25 and “Vision 2030” Highlights

Gov. Tony Evers (D) released his 2023-25 capital budget recommendations on February 28. The capital budget includes plans for purchasing, constructing, maintaining, and disposing of state-owned buildings and other facilities, including University of Wisconsin System properties.

Gov. Evers proposes spending $3.8 billion on capital projects over the next two fiscal years, financed by $1.9 billion from his executive budget (his proposed operating budget) and another $1.9 billion in borrowing. The capital budget is distinct from the state’s operating budget, which finances state employees, agencies, and programs. Recent capital budgets since 2011 have enumerated between $850 million and $1.7 billion.

The State Building Commission will meet March 23 to vote on the governor’s recommendations, which by law must be submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance by April 4.

For more information about Gov. Evers’ proposed operating budget for 2023-25, see our executive budget highlights article. For more information and updates about the budget process, follow our 2023-25 State Budget page.

Capital Budget Highlights: Bike Trail Projects

The Wisconsin Bike Fed, a key stakeholder in the state’s outdoor recreation industry, supports state investment in public trails and parks that provide bicycling opportunities. In particular, the Bike Fed supports a proposal in Gov. Evers’ 2023-25 capital budget to provide $6.6 million to repair the historic Stewart Tunnel on the Badger State Trail, which has been closed since 2019, requiring those using the trail to take a difficult detour around the tunnel.

Wisconsin Bike Fed also supports the funding proposals in Gov. Evers’ capital budget for the following bridge repair and replacement projects:

  • 400 State Trail: $943,700
  • Badger State Trail: $2.9 million
  • Bearkskin State Trail: $2 million
  • Chippewa River State Trail: $2.6 million
  • Elroy-Sparta State Trail: $180,000
  • Great River State Trail: $2 million
  • Military Ridge State Trail: $3.1 million
  • Point Beach State Forest: $1.9 million
  • Red Cedar State Trail: $2.4 million

DOA Releases “Vision 2030” Plan, Including New Milwaukee State Office Building

Related to the capital budget, the Department of Administration (DOA) has released an update of its Vision 2030 plan for state government facilities. The plan aims to address issues of “aging infrastructure in state-owned buildings, the impending retirement of many state workers, recruitment challenges, and a growing demand for digital government services.”

The update focuses on the Evers Administration’s plan to vacate and sell several large state office buildings, three in Madison and one in Milwaukee. Madison-area employees will be relocated to other offices such as the Hill Farms building and the Tommy G. Thompson Center. This would be a 28 percent reduction in the state’s Madison building footprint.

In Milwaukee, the state plans to build a new office facility on state-owned land at 27th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. According to the plan, the building “will be built through a public/private partnership with a request for proposals anticipated to be issued in late 2023/early 2024.”

The plan argues that the existing Milwaukee State Office Building “on North 6th Street is dated, in need of significant renovation, and lacks parking.” The plan estimates that it would cost the state nearly $100 million for upgrades just to continue its operations at this facility.

The plan estimates a 48- to 60-month timeline for the state to relocate to the new facility. The state expects most of the agencies using the current Milwaukee office building to lease space at the new facility. Some state staff, like the State Public Defender’s Office and Department of Corrections, are already relocating to other offices.