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Home / Government / Assembly to back borrowing $350M for new prison (UPDATE)

Assembly to back borrowing $350M for new prison (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly planned to finish its work for the year on Thursday by approving $350 million to build a new prison and provide all parents a $100 per-child tax rebate, although it’s uncertain whether either proposal will pass the Senate.

The Assembly scheduled itself a marathon final day on Thursday for the current legislative session. Lawmakers are expected to work deep into the night. The Senate, for its part, plans to come back for one last day in March before quitting for the year.

One of Gov. Scott Walker’s top priorities remained undone and in at least partially at risk. Lawmakers were still trying to reach a deal on Walker’s proposed $100 per-child tax rebate, as well as the sales-tax holiday he wants to have in the first weekend in August.

The Assembly was scheduled to vote on the bill, but the tax-holiday part has not got enough support in the Senate, putting the entire tax cut in jeopardy. The identical bill must pass both chambers and be signed by Walker before taking effect. Noting the Senate opposition to the sales-tax holiday, Walker has said the child credit is his priority.

Another bill up for approval would allow $350 million to be borrowed for a new adult prison. Its fate in the Senate is also unknown.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wants to approve borrowing for the new prison now even though lawmakers are still waiting for a prison task force to make recommendations. Given that prisons are already 30 percent over-capacity, and the Legislature is passing tough-on-crime bills that are likely to put even more people behind bars, Vos said it’s a foregone conclusion that a new prison will be needed.

The Assembly also planned to approve spending $4 million on additional prosecutors for district attorneys and a plan that would lead to increasing revocations of probation, parole or extended supervision, all changes likely to send more people to prison.

A tax incentive package designed to entice Kimberly-Clark to not cut 600 jobs in northeastern Wisconsin was also up for approval. The consumer-products giant has been non-committal about the proposal, which Walker put forward in a form mirroring incentives given to Taiwanese company Foxconn Technology Group.

That proposal has elicited opposition from a coalition of conservative advocacy groups that say it sets a bad precedent for economic development.

The Assembly also planned to give its final approval to pay raises for state workers and University of Wisconsin employees. The plan would those employees a 2 percent raise this summer and another 2 percent increase in January.

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