February 8, 2016

Lawmakers reject Circus World takeover

The state of Wisconsin will not be getting into the circus business, after the Legislature’s finance committee on Tuesday rejected a provision in the governor’s budget that would have had the State Historical Society take control of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo.

The museum is facing a deficit in its operating budget, but committee co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) says local solutions should be looked at before the state considers taking control. Nygren said “if they’re going to make it, they’re going to have to make it on their own.”

AUDIO: Rep. Nygren (:18)

Steve Freese, executive director of the museum’s foundation, applauded the committee’s decision to block the take-over. He says the board will now work with the state on finding a solution to deal with the operation’s cash flow issues.

AUDIO: Steve Freese (:17)

Freese says part of that discussion should include allowing the museum to own more of its non-historical assets. Those are currently turned over to the state and he says that makes it difficult for the museum to set up its own credit lines.

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