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Initial Thoughs Regarding Walker’s 2010 Proposed Budget

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 24, 2009

These are just my initial reactions to a preliminary look through Scott Walker’s proposed budget for 2010. As is my wont, I will be examining them more closely in the days to come, covering them by sections.

When I first read Walker’s campaign speech budget address, I will admit that I was impressed. There were some good news in there indeed, such as the restoration of some key services. Needless to say, I was dismayed about Walker’s hopes to try to balance his budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and, yes, the workers, such as myself. More on the workers part in a little bit.

Dan Cody shows that Walker is proposing his fancy water parks in the suburbs at the cost of several pools, including the two indoor pools, and the community centers. This will not gain him any favors with the elderly or the poor.

Cory Liebmann and Harris Kane discuss how Walker seems to have suddenly become a tax and spender, like those he just criticized at last weekend’s Teabaggerfest.

Walker also cuts several bus routes, including at least one serving the poorest neighborhoods, in favor of a rapid transit bus that will serve a school that will probably never be built.

Speaking of which, I am hearing from more and more sources that the UW-Tosa deal for the county grounds is going to fall through. I hope that the County Board shows enough sense not to count on that money anymore.

I did notice that it appears Walker has reversed himself on closing one of the units serving disabled adults at the mental health complex. Since I am the only one to have written about it, to the best of my knowledge, I take at least some of the credit for putting that pressure on.

It is good to see that Walker, after months and months of decrying the stimulus money, is now embracing it to rectify some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and the disrepair that comes with it. Furthering his hypocrisy, he is also using the stimulus dollars to put the burden on taxpayers for years to come, despite saying how he thought that was a bad idea. And to put the cherry on this hypocrisy sundae, he is taking credit for the hard work the County Board did just to shut him up and get the stimulus dollars he didn’t want in the first place.

Walker is also taking credit for Family Care, which was actually ordered by Governor Doyle to happen statewide. And by the way, it will take three years, not two. He really should have been paying more attention to his county instead of the state.

The fact that Walker is trying to balance his budget on the workers’ backs during contract negotiations shows his lack of understanding and/or lack of respect for the laws governing such issues. All the union has to do, if push comes to shove is go to arbitration, which will end up costing jobs and cuts in services, but will also cost the County a pretty penny.

Also, as with the Income Maintenance programs, if Walker cuts services too much, the state will come in and take over these programs as well. There is already a class action lawsuit against DHHS for failing to provide services in a timely fashion to disabled adults.

On a similar note, I heard from a birdie today that Walker has sent a letter to the Board, asking for a special meeting to immediately implement the reduced work hours plan he had tried a few months ago. This time he learned his lesson, and is only asking for the four weeks as allowed under the old contract. The new one that he has threatened to veto would have given him six weeks to play with.

Walker also wants five days of furlough for non-represented employees, the birdie told me. I wonder if that would include his own staff.

And to top it off, Walker already has identified the 300-400 workers he wants laid off at year’s end. Any guesses if I am on the list?

The County Board dropped a bomb on themselves today as well, when they voted to lay over the contract for AFSCME, after they approved two others that included raises, where AFSCME didn’t. One of the bigger hypocrites was Supervisor Pat Jursik. She gave her fellow lawyers a raise, and is pushing to spend a wad of money on the underutilized Hoan Bridge, but thinks it’s outrageous that a housekeeper or parks worker making $12 or $14 an hour gets to keep their job.

The other big hypocrite is Supervisor Johnny Thomas, who is a member of the Personnel Committee and voted for the contract in committee, but turned around and voted for the layover. But then again, it appears that he is pushing for some higher position himself, as evidenced by his “Road Map for Milwaukee County’s Future.” And like Paul Ryan’s road map, it is a bunch of words that don’t say anything.

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