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State construction projects approved

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MADISON (WSAU) The state Building Commission has approved Governor Scott Walker’s construction projects for the next two years. A couple items were added at the last minute, bringing the total to one-point-two billion dollars. That’s still 22-percent less than what the Republican Walker first recommended a week ago.

The projects include a new performance center for U-W Madison athletics, a new education building at Eau Claire, and various repair-and-maintenance projects at buildings throughout the state. The governor added $52-million for a new nursing school at Madison, and $63-million for a physical education facility at River Falls.

The capital budget now goes to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The two Democrats on the building panel – Senator Fred Risser and Representative Mark Pocan, both of Madison – sat out of the meeting, which was held in the governor’s conference room. They protested the decision to close the door once all 50 seats for spectators were filled. Risser said he never heard of such a thing in his four decades on the Building Commission. He said they always moved to a larger room to accommodate over-flow crowds.

Al Fish, a U-W Madison building official, was among those locked out of the meeting until other spectators had left. Pocan said the commission broke the state Open Meetings Law, saying “It’s not a public meeting if you don’t let the public in.” But Walker called the session “100-percent legal.”

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