Tonette Walker, first lady of Wisconsin, and wife of Governor Scott Walker is making a big wish on her Christmas list this year. She is asking for $478,000 in renovation costs for the two kitchens in Wisconsin’s executive mansion. The request is being made less than a year after the budget fight that left many in Wisconsin feeling burned and disgusted by the back room bargaining with big business.
The nearly 100-year-old mansion has more than 16,000 square feet of living space including 34
rooms, 13 bathrooms, and 7 bedrooms. As wife of the governor, Tonette is charged with running the large home. Part of that includes heading up the Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation (WERF). The Foundation is charged with preserving the mansion, including raising funds for projects that the group deems necessary. This time around, the project that the group is tackling is the main kitchen for the mansion, as well as the smaller kitchenette that’s for private use by the governor and his family. However, the private kitchen is not beings used, and not because it’s in such disrepair. The governor and his wife don’t actually live in the mansion. They live in their home in Wauwatosa, which is over an hour away from Madison, the State’s capitol city. Apparently, they brown bag their lunches there, but still insist on an upgrade to a kitchen that’s not even used.
The renovation of the smaller kitchen seems unreasonable, but does the larger main kitchen need renovation? Mrs. Walker and the Foundation seem to think so. After all, the last renovation was in 1986. The mansion sees thousands of visitors every year, including official functions that require kitchen facilities. Tonette Walker and the Foundation state that the kitchen needs a major overhaul, including storage cabinets, shelving, disposal, a dishwasher, an oven, a stove, refrigerators and freezers.
To help pay for the renovation costs, Mrs. Walker will be doing fundraisers to help defer the costs so that taxpayers don’t have to foot the entire bill for the loan request. She has forwarded the request to the Department of Administration, and has since been sent to the Building Commission. The monies for the renovation comes from the general fund, which is paid for by taxpayers. Even with low-interest loans, the kitchens’ renovations will end up costing quite a bit more. This is all from a governor who insists on staying within the state’s budget, and not borrowing from the next generation.
Despite the uproar by the average Wisconsin taxpayer, the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance seems to think it’s within bounds saying “A kitchen for the entire state, $500,000 isn’t really big by comparison, but I understand it will make some people unhappy.”
Here’s the video:
Apparently, the Wisconsin Tax Payers Alliance and Mrs. Walker have conveniently forgotten the governor’s frugal brown bag ways.