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Surplus? What Surplus?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on April 14, 2010

From Milwaukee County First, in response to Scott Walker’s announcement that the county has a $8.9 million dollar surplus:

A year ago, Scott Walker was sounding the alarm bell, claiming that Milwaukee County was facing a $15 million deficit.  He kept up this charade until it was proven that a deficit of that size did not exist.

Now, Walker is claiming that Milwaukee County has a $8.9 million surplus from 2009’s budget.  Not even his supporters are buying that claim without a certain level of skepticism.

Even if you believe Walker’s numbers, there is little that he should be boasting about.  In his eight years in office, here are some of the highlights of the low lights Walker has given to Milwaukee County:

  • More than $300 million in unfunded pension liability, on top of the $400 million pension obligation bonds
  • More than $200 million in deferred maintenance and repairs in the parks system
  • A 20% cut in transit routes, which in turn made more than 40,000 jobs inaccessible to bus riders
  • The Behavioral Health Division is so poorly run that patients and staff are frequently put in harm’s way, and the county is facing tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues, not to mention big ticket civil lawsuits
  • The Income Maintenance Program was so severely short-staffed that the State of Wisconsin had to intervene and take over the system to protect tax payers from a class action lawsuit due to people not receiving help getting food and health care during one of the worse recessions in the country’s history
  • The House of Correction was so mismanaged that a federal audit gave it failing grades, until Walker abdicated his responsibility for it to Sheriff Clarke.
  • About 3,000 people with disabilities are without services, some of whom have been on a waiting list for more than ten years
  • An infrastructure, including the County Courthouse and county roads, literally crumbling around us
  • Hundreds of county workers thrown into the unemployment line
  • A current budget with a $17 million deficit built into it.

While it is true that some of these things, like the cuts in park services, started long before Walker was first elected as county executive, he did nothing to stop this trend, but perpetuated and even accelerated it.

Given the hundreds of millions of dollars in bills that Walker is sticking to tax payers for years to come and the deplorable conditions of the county’s assets and the way our most vulnerable people are being maltreated, Walker has very little to be proud of.

For Walker to boast about this unconfirmed surplus would be like a person bragging about the mileage his broken down jalopy gets while its sitting on blocks or the person bragging about money saved by not re-shingling his house as the roof caves in from water damage.


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