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Walker’s Message Behind The Message

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on August 29, 2009

Every Friday, Scott Walker (actually, it’s probably one of his lackeys or interns) sends out a piece of propaganda which he calls the “Executive Update.” In every “Executive Update” he has a short column called “Message from County Executive Walker.”

This week’s is kind of funny, if one knows what’s really going on.

He starts with:

A good chunk of my time this week (as it has been for weeks) was spent with department heads and constitutional officers as we work to put together the 2010 county budget. We started out with a $90 million gap because of pension and health care costs; decreases in real estate transfer fees, sales tax collections and earnings on investments; and cuts in state aid.

This is the same guy that claims that this year we had a $15 million deficit. It turned out to be a bunch of hooey, and now the County could have up to a $5 million surplus. If he lied about it this year, why should we believe him about next year’s budget?

The next paragraph reads:

In addition, I am working on a new way to promote economic development in the county – along with maintaining our public safety programs and finding ways to protect core safety net programs.

Walker hasn’t done anything to protect safety net programs before, why would he start now? It’s always been the County Board that has had to reinstate the services Walker had cut, whether he had the ability to or not.

Two other things about that tiny paragraph. One, it would have been a lot easier to promote economic development if he hadn’t filled that role with his unqualified campaign lackeys before abolishing the position in itself. It’s hard to sell a product (in this case, Milwaukee County) if you don’t have a qualified salesman.

The other item of interest is Walker has put a request to the employees and to municipal leaders for ideas on how to cut costs. He is in a bind because even if he cut every single non-mandated item, like buses and parks, it might not be enough to meet his stated budget goals. For example, he is considering cutting all aid for the homeless shelters, burying the indigent, and hurting almost every other non-mandated service that goes to the most vulnerable, and it is still about $4 million dollars short of his desired budget cut. The fact remains, he will either have to again prove himself incompetent, by having more departments taken away from his control, like with the Income Maintenance Program, or he will have to raise taxes, which he has promised not to do.

The last paragraph is this:

Clearly, we need to hold the line on property taxes – as too many people and companies are headed into bankruptcy and foreclosure (higher taxes will drive even more into those areas). Also, we need to insure that we are not using one-time fixes to balance the budget (as this will make for an even tougher budget in 2011).

He claims to have held the line on taxes, yet Milwaukee County is still high in unemployment and in foreclosures, especially in the inner city. While real leaders like Governor Doyle, Mayor Barrett and the County Board have gone past him to get stimulus dollars to help our situation, and have shown to be able to actually make things better, all Walker has offered is pipe dreams that are both unrealistic and wouldn’t help in the first place.

He sure talks a nice talk. Too bad that he can’t follow it up with anything of substance.


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