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Republicans to extend land stewardship program 4 years

Republicans to extend land stewardship program 4 years

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the state Legislature plan to extend Wisconsin's contentious land stewardship program for four years, rather than another decade as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wanted.

The GOP-controlled budget committee also planned to vote Thursday on providing half the funding for the stewardship program than Evers wanted. Evers proposed $70 million a year in borrowing authority and Republicans planned to propose $32 million annually. That is currently the amount allowed.

“I think that he kind of shot the moon on an amount that was based on getting a number out there and a time length out there we could work off of," said Republican Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, a member of the Joint Finance Committee.

The panel is working on its own version of the state budget and is slated to complete its work next week, sending the two-year spending plan to the full Legislature for its consideration.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources uses stewardship funding to purchase land for the state and help conservation organizations purchase land. Republicans have criticized the program for running up too much debt and taking too much property off tax rolls.

Loudenbeck said renewing the program for four years, rather than 10 years, and reducing the funding was a “good fit" and financially prudent. The program was last renewed for two years for a period that ends in 2022.

“I think it’s appropriate for us to take another look at it in a few years," Loudenbeck said at a news conference before the committee planned to vote later Thursday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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