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Is This Going To Be A Budget Or A Campaign Stump Speech?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 22, 2009

For the past few weeks, Scott Walker has been “leaking” out parts of his budget.  With every revealing glimpse, we see not a masterpiece, unless your into The Picture of Dorian Gray, but what appears to be pandering to his political base.

This morning’s copy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the latest in these slowly revealed budget peeks.

The headliner of today’s story is that Walker wants to privatize the Milwaukee County Zoo.  This makes as much sense as when he tried to promote the idea of privatizing the airport.  The budget crisis, according to Walker, is immediate.  However, even Walker admits that an eventual privatization of the zoo wouldn’t happen for a while, and then the savings, if there to be any, which is doubtful, wouldn’t be recognized for a while after that.

And if anyone should tout this as being a good idea, please remember what happened with the privately run museum, which Walker wants to base the privatization of the zoo on.  The museum was recently in deep trouble and needed a $10 million dollar bailout from the County just to keep its doors open.  Even with that, the museum was in financial trouble once again earlier this year.

But the zoo wasn’t the only, or even the most disturbing issue in the article.

Walker also touted that he wanted to rip up three deep well pools and replace them with splash pads.  He also wanted to repair one pool with money from both the County and private donations.  Walker is also planning on proposing a third water park.

The problem is that two of the three splash pads, the pool and the water park are all slotted to go to the benefit of the suburbs.  When Walker was asked about the other pools, like the ones that serve the north side, Walker declined to answer.  If it was good news, one would think he’d want to share it.

Walker is also proposing to lay off 34 of the 48 parks workers, but does say how he would replace these workers.  The article hints that he might try to go to his seasonal help, but that will only set back the deferred maintenance even further, since the part-timers will not necessarily have the knowledge or the skills to do the work needed.

On the bright side, Walker must have realized the folly of eliminating the economic development office and is restoring it.  Let’s hope he has it staffed with people skilled in the area and not with his campaign workers, as he has done in years past.

It is also rather interesting that Walker, who has touted himself for supposedly reducing the debt of the County, is also proposing to take out massive amounts of borrowing through bonds, to take full advantage of stimulus dollars, which he has traditionally been opposed to.

It does seem like he is trying to run a campaign through the budget the more we see of it.


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