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Governor’s budget, including UWL science building, is stalled again by Building Commission

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For the third time, the Wisconsin Building Commission has put a large construction project at UW-La Crosse on hold with a 4-4 tie vote. 

The second half of the Prairie Springs science center is part of the governor’s $2 billion capital budget, which has been halted by Republican members of the commission all three times since Tony Evers became governor. 

“They did this in 2019 to 2021, they did it in our 2021 budget, and now they’re doing it this year,” says La Crosse Democrat Jill Billings, who serves on the building commission and voted yes on the budget.  “And it’s disappointing, but not surprising.”

Billings says delays to the $182 million Prairie Springs project force the La Crosse campus to keep spending money to maintain the outdated Cowley Science Hall, built in the 60’s.

FILE – Gov. Tony Evers speaks at Cowley Hall on the UW-L campus, with Chancellor Joe Gow and Rep. Jill Billings nearby

“Every year that we have to keep reinvesting in that building is a strain on the campus,” she says. “Every year we put off building Prairie Springs Phase Two, it becomes more expensive, a lot more expensive.” The first Prairie Springs building opened in 2018.

Billings hopes people will speak in favor of the building plans at budget hearings scheduled around the state, including hearings at Wisconsin Dells and Eau Claire.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.