- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Department of Corrections will try to resell $37,000 of new furniture ordered by the state Parole Commission just days before the agency was targeted for elimination.

Corrections Department spokesman Tristan Cook first said Thursday that the furniture would be repurposed for use in the Corrections Department after the Parole Commission is eliminated. But he reversed himself 35 minutes after The Associated Press reported on the purchase, saying instead the order would be canceled or scaled back.

On Friday, Cook said the bulk of the order wouldn’t be canceled because inmates who were making the furniture through the state prison system’s manufacturing program, Badger State Industries, had already begun the work.

“Rather than discard the materials and waste the work that had already been done, DOC is completing the furniture and will retain the completed furniture for sale to another customer,” Cook said in an email to The Associated Press.

There is no customer yet and Cook didn’t immediately know if the full $36,860 cost of the order would be recouped. A smaller order of about $2,600 was successfully canceled, he said.



That smaller order was placed on Feb. 7, the day before Gov. Scott Walker proposed eliminating the commission in the state budget he released last week.

Cook promised on Thursday - minutes after the AP first reported on the furniture purchase - that it would be canceled or scaled back in the interest of prudently spending taxpayer dollars. The furniture won’t be going to the Parole Commission even though the bulk of the order won’t be canceled, Cook said.

Democratic lawmakers on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee expressed frustration Thursday with the parole commission’s purchasing of the furniture given that Walker is seeking to eliminate the agency.

The furniture included a reception area and eight cubicles for commissioners and support staff.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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