Gov. Scott Walker said his wife and a private foundation will raise all of the money for a kitchen renovation at the executive residence privately.
Tonette Walker is looking to raise funds to cover $478,000 in improvements to the industrial kitchen and residential kitchenette at the executive residence in Maple Bluff.
The governor is trying to reassure taxpayers that they would not be paying for the kitchen for him or anyone else, and that the first lady and executive residence foundation intend to raise all the money for the kitchen renovation privately.
Speaking to reporters after a budget listening session in Green Bay on Tuesday, the governor said that more than 15,000 people a year use the executive residence for events.
He said the kitchen hasn't been renovated since the 1980s and there are some safety concerns.
"It's got a kitchen that's industrial grade that right now hasn't been upgraded since I was in high school. So it's one of those where I think the idea was not only from a usage standpoint but, at some point, from a public safety standpoint; that you've got a chute over the stove that literally they have to put Styrofoam up in when it rains or snows to keep water from coming in, which is a potential fire hazard," Walker said.
Walker also stressed that the executive residence is not his "home" and that he primarily uses a kitchen at his house in Wauwatosa.
The Department of Administration sent a request to the State of Wisconsin Building Commission in the past week, asking for permission to move forward with the project.
The plan will go before the State of Wisconsin Building Commission on Wednesday for approval.
Aides to Republicans and Democrats on the commission confirmed Tuesday the first lady had expressed intent months ago to raise the money privately, although the money would be borrowed upfront by the state.
The governor said the issue of renovating the kitchen has been discussed as far back as 2005.