The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has spent $294,465.57 in two fiscal years on resorts in Wisconsin Dells a Media Trackers review of state spending records has found. According to OpenBooks.wi.gov, a state spending transparency website established by Gov. Scott Walker, DPI spent lavishly at six resorts in the popular entertainment and vacation destination.
On Monday, DPI released its budget request for the upcoming biannual budget. When lawmakers start a new session in January they will be tasked in the first six months with crafting a new two-year state budget. Led by Superintendent Tony Evers, the DPI wants to increase its spending by $613 million.
GOP lawmakers don’t appear ready to send more taxpayer money to the agency. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren declared in a press release, “We have a responsibility to provide a great education to every child in Wisconsin and protect the interests of the taxpayer. It is unfortunate that DPI doesn’t put more of an emphasis on the latter.”
The frequent – and expensive – retreats to Wisconsin Dells are not fully explained by the agency. All of the spending comes from DPI’s general fund, meaning it is entirely underwritten by Wisconsin taxpayers. According to Google Maps, the resort town is located just an hour north of DPI’s offices in downtown Madison.
Here’s a look at where top state education officials spent taxpayer money on Wisconsin Dells resort trips in state fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
Chula Vista Resort and Waterpark – $107,195.67
Kalahari Resort – $105,109.83
Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort – $53,766.98
Glacier Canyon Lodge – $11,722.34
Great Wolf Lodge – $10,418.00
Wintergreen Resort & Conference Center – $6,252.75