Lawmakers continue to push for GBCI funding in budget

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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Lawmakers who support building a new prison in the Green Bay area remain hopeful, although Gov. Tony Evers says funding will not be part of his state budget.

Target 2 Investigates has reported on the security upgrades needed to reduce staff and inmate attacks and injuries at the aging facility. Lawmakers have cited high operational costs in their push to decommission the 120-year-old prison.

State Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) refers to the prison as "The Most Dangerous Place in the State of Wisconsin."

"Even though Evers said we are not going to start with it in his budget -- that doesn't mean we are not going to end with it in his budget," Steffen tells Action 2 News.

Steffen says he is hopeful a Comprehensive Prison Facilities Report will change the governor's mind about GBCI.

"We are not done here. We are just at the beginning of the budget process starting next week with the introduction, and then we will have months and months and months to have the opportunity to have this discussion," Steffen says.

An audit found that GBCI takes up 50 percent of the statewide institution budget.

"We have an opportunity through my proposal to safe the tax payers over $150 million, provide a better work environment for those workers, safer for those inmates and also provide some recidivism and and reduction," Steffen says.

Allouez Village President Jim Rafter sees the prison property as a potential area for redevelopment.

"Allouez doesn't have a downtown, so it would give us a downtown," Rafter says. "It would give Brown County a very special place right at the corner of 172 and the Fox River."

Both Gov. Evers and State Republicans have been pushing agendas looking at criminal justice reform.

"There may actually be fewer people in the prisons, so it's something that we might have to way but it will not be a part of our budget request," Evers said of GBCI.

Rep. Steffen hopes the Comprehensive Prison Facilities Report will have an impact.

"I fully expect that the state legislature that will be fully receiving his budget next week, will have the opportunity to fully evaluate that facilities report and then be able to evaluate those findings and fully incorporate those findings into the state budget.," Steffens says.

Gov. Evers is expected to release his budget on Feb. 28.

MORE COVERAGE OF GBCI:

State correctional audit could help push for new Allouez prisonTARGET 2 INVESTIGATES: Employee harassment at Green Bay prison

Target 2 Investigates: Prison losing staffers hired in state recruiting blitz

GBCI redevelopment plan creates center for shopping, living and playing

State Senate Committee holds hearing on closing GBCI