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Democrats question Gov. Walker’s prison bed estimate

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MADISON — Democrats are questioning why Gov. Scott Walker wants hundreds fewer contract prison beds than the Department of Corrections estimates.

DOC requested $40 million for 3,686 beds in the 2017-19 state budget. Walker’s budget provides $17.3 million to cover 2,086 beds.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary says Walker plans to house more adult offenders in Racine and expand the earned release program. Those moves still leave Walker 1,208 beds short of DOC projections.

Rep. Evan Goyke, a Milwaukee Democrat, says Walker is ignoring the projections to avoid debate over building a new prison.

Department of Administration spokesman Steven Michels says the reduced projections assume an expected influx of drunken driving inmates won’t arrive during the biennium.

A new law went into effect in January increasing sentences for repeat drunken drivers.

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