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The Latest: DNR forestry move would cost millions

Posted September 16

— The Latest on Wisconsin state agencies' budget requests (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

A new report says moving the Department of Natural Resources' forestry headquarters to northern Wisconsin would likely cost millions of dollars.

The 2015-17 state budget mandated the DNR prepare a proposal to move the headquarters. The agency submitted a report on a potential move as part of its 2017-19 budget request. That request was released Friday.

The report shows the DNR has narrowed down cities to Hayward, Rhinelander and Wausau. The report estimated building a new headquarters in Wausau would cost $5.9 million and $10.8 million per year to run for 20 years. Leasing space would cost $1 million the first year and $9.3 million annually for 20 years.

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2 p.m.

A state Department of Natural Resources official is shedding more light on the 9.5 positions the agency wants to eliminate in the next state budget.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration released state agencies' 2017-19 budget requests Friday. The DNR's requests ask for permission to eliminate 9.5 employees but offers no details on who they are or on their duties.

DNR spokesman James Dick says the positions are federally funded four-year project positions that are coming to the end of their terms.

He says their duties included managing internet content for the Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, measure lake water quality and vegetation and working on Great Lakes habitat and restoration projects.

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1:08 p.m.

Wisconsin school officials want Gov. Scott Walker to devote about $600,000 more to grants to teachers who work in poor school districts.

The governor's administration released state agencies' 2017-19 budget requests Friday. The Department of Public Instruction submitted half of its request. The other half will come in November.

DPI's request includes a plan to spend about $600,000 more on grants to teachers who achieve certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or get a master educator's licenses and work in high-poverty districts. Teachers who work in Milwaukee would be eligible for $10,000 in grants rather than $5,000. Teachers who work in other high-poverty districts would be eligible for $7,500 rather than $5,000.

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12:42 p.m.

The state Department of Natural Resources wants to cut 9.5 positions in the next state budget.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration released state agencies' 2017-19 budget requests Friday. The DNR's plan calls for eliminating 9.5 employees. The request offers no details on the employees' duties.

Agency spokesman James Dick says the positions are federally funded four-year project positions that are coming to the end of their terms. He didn't immediately respond to an email asking about the employees' duties.

Overall, the DNR asked Walker for $1.1 billion over the next two years. That's down $23.4 million compared from what the agency got in the 2015-17 state budget. The agency asked for less money for its conservation, environmental and clean water funds.

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This item has been corrected to show the decrease in the DNR's budget is about $23.4 million, not $26 million.

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11:57 a.m.

The state Department of Natural Resources wants Gov. Scott Walker to shift more employees to regulating factory farms in the next state budget.

Walker's administration released state agencies' 2017-19 budget requests Friday. The DNR's request includes a plan to shift four positions to regulating the farms, saying the factory farm program has grown significantly, from 40 operations in 1995 to 285 today. The agency says the four new workers would help ensure adequate staffing to review permit applications and reissuances and monitor compliance.

The request doesn't specify which divisions would lose the employees.

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10:30 a.m.

The state Department of Corrections is asking Gov. Scott Walker to spend millions in the next state budget to add staff at Wisconsin's troubled youth prison.

Walker's administration released state agencies' 2017-19 budget requests on Friday. Corrections' wants $1.3 million to hire nine nurses to administer medication at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls, the state's joint youth prison in Irma. The agency also wants $2.4 million to create 8.25 additional counselor positions to help the prison come into compliance staff-to-juvenile rations determined by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The prison is the subject of a sweeping federal investigation into allegations of widespread abuse of inmates by staff. The probe has been going on for more than a year.

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8:54 a.m.

Wisconsin health officials are asking Gov. Scott Walker to increase Medicaid spending by $452 million in the upcoming state budget.

Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer wrote that the money would come out of state tax dollars. She noted that the last three state budgets increased state spending on Medicaid by $650 million, $685 million and $1.6 billion.

Seemeyer wrote that the smaller increase for 2017-19 stems from better care coordination, efforts to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and improved oversight of managed care contracts.

Walker will consider the request as he crafts his executive budget. He'll present the budget early next year to the Legislature, which will revise it before passing a final version.

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