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Committee rejects Governor Walker’s plan to freeze land buys

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Scott Walker in Washington

MADISON — Wisconsin lawmakers have rejected Republican Governor Scott Walker’s plan to block the state Department of Natural Resources from purchasing any land through its stewardship program for at least the next 13 years.

Walker’s budget would place a moratorium on stewardship land acquisitions until debt service on purchases already made drops to $1 for every $8 spent since the program began in 1989. The program won’t reach that ration until 2028.

Republicans who control the Legislature’s budget committee voted 12-4 on Friday to adopt a wide-ranging motion affecting the DNR’s budget. The motion calls for rejecting the freeze but limiting stewardship borrowing authorization to $33.3 million annually through fiscal year 2019-20.

The last state budget limited stewardship bonding to no more than $50 million from 2016 to 2017 through 2019 to 2020.