Gov. Walker withdraws request for public money for mansion renovation

Foundation will first try to raise money privately
Gov. Walker withdraws request for public money for mansion renovation

A request to use state money to renovate the kitchen at the governor’s executive residence is being withdrawn by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.

A statement from Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said the $478,000 project was being pulled from the agenda of the State Building Commission because the Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation is raising private funds for the project.

He said the issue would go back to the commission in the future if public funds are needed.

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 Executive Residence has more than 15,000 visitors annually, and we will ensure the building has the repairs it needs to serve the citizens of our state.”

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.