The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Part of Walker’s budget proposal overturned


  • The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors' Finance and Audit Committee voted to overturn most of the proposed county job cuts
  • County Executive Scott Walker proposed 2009 budget included cutting or privatizing 235 county jobs
  • The full board votes Nov. 10 on their final budget, which then goes to Walker for approval or veto

More than 200 Milwaukee County jobs that were on the chopping block may not be cut after all.

The County Board of Supervisors' Finance and Audit Committee voted Oct. 30 to overturn most of the proposed cuts included in County Executive Scott Walker's proposed 2009 county budget.

Walker's proposal included cutting 235 county jobs, a trend that has become characteristic of Walker's time in office. Since Walker was elected in 2002, there are 1,430 fewer Milwaukee County employees, according to the 2009 budget highlights.

Walker's budget kept the 2009 tax levy, the total tax Milwaukee County residents pay on their property, at the same level as this year — $249.9 million. In part, this was due to the cutting and privatizing of those jobs. Under the County Board's revisions, the 2009 county tax levy will be about $7.9 million higher.

The panel also voted down Walker's proposal of installing parking meters along the Lincoln Memorial Drive lakefront.

County Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb, who represents the 1st District, said the board's efforts to offset Walker's job cuts are founded in offering the best care for county residents.

"Continued job cuts threaten to further undermine the quality of services that our citizens receive," he said. "Walker is attempting to cut another 5 percent of county positions in a rather arbitrary manner. He cannot justify that these positions are unnecessary, or that the work load has decreased — only that he does not wish to pay for them."

Lipscomb also said the continued push for privatization in the name of revenue increase lacks evidence.

"County Executive Walker continues to push for privatization based on the premise that it will save money in the short term," Lipscomb said. "But without any evidence that service levels will be maintained or that the savings will materialize in the long term."

Calls to both Walker's office and his budget director's office for comment on the changes were not returned by press time.

Robert Henken, president of Public Policy Forum, a nonpartisan watchdog group that studies government trends in southeastern Wisconsin, said the success of the county budget is contingent on whether the privatization proposals can offer comparable savings and service.

"(Walker) argues that his proposal to contract out more than $8 million in programs and services is necessary to long-term sustainability," Henken said. "Whether that argument is correct depends upon the extent to which each individual privatization proposal can generate forecasted savings, and the impact of the quality of services."

Henken said county supervisors who oppose Walker's budget should have alternative proposals. It's important to find cost-cutting solutions other than increasing the property tax, he said.

"Simply increasing the property tax levy in 2009 to avoid privatizing county jobs will do little to address the problem," Henken said.

The panel can still revise the budget until the full board votes on Nov. 10, after which the budget is submitted to Walker for approval or veto.

The County Board fears a veto by Walker, but still has faith their proposals can win.

"He always vetoes everything," said County Board Chairman Lee Holloway. "I think we've got the votes (necessary to override)."

The County Board needs 13 votes from the 19-member board to override Walker's vetoes.

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