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Where’s The Part About Pixie Dust?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on October 6, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker came out with his proposed 2011 budget this morning.  As time goes on, we will do a more detailed parsing of the different parts of the budget, such as transportation, the parks, safety services, etc.  But for tonight, let us take a look at the overall budget.

On the surface, Walker has done much of what he promised.  Transit routes weren’t cut, per se, although they were still scaled back.  General fares were left unchanged.  He also left the parks, seemingly, the same as last year.  He threw in an extra $5.5 million towards the mental health complex and related services, although there are some that would describe it as too little, too late.  The same could be said for the fact that he is actually putting money into building maintenance, but only after a number of tragic incidents occurred.

And not only did Walker take steps to atone for his sins of past budgets, he did it with cutting the tax levy by one million dollars!

He is a regular miracle worker! Right?

Not really.

When one looks at how Walker plans on paying for all these wonderful things, the wheels start to come off.

He is counting on two basic things to help pay for the increases in some areas plus the $1 million levy.

One is what appears to be some overly optimistic revenue numbers.  Unless Walker is really telling us that President Obama’s stimulus plan is actually more successful than he would let on, it appears that Walker is playing quick and loose with his projected revenues, which would lead to another deficit for county tax payers to deal with.

The other way he expect to pay for this is on the worker’s backs, as we have been saying all along.

While this anti-worker approach is undoubtedly popular with his base, it is rather unrealistic as well.

His expectations for concessions appear to be identical to the ones he made for  the 2010 budget.   Walker claims that he feels they are “fair” and that the unions should just accept them.

I won’t go into whether they are fair or not, but would ask Walker one question.  If these concession are so reasonable, why has he not had them presented at the negotiating table with the unions.  Secondly, I don’t foresee the unions moving any time in the near future, as that they have a number of lawsuits and arbitration hearings pending, including one the premise that there was bad faith negotiations due to the County trying to negotiate the contract through the budgeting process, which is, of course, illegal.

I don’t see the unions being willing to proceed until they have these rulings, whether or not they are in their favor.  Likewise, I don’t see Scott Walker wanting the hearings to proceed until after the November election, so he will have his attorneys keep asking for adjournments and extensions until then.

Given these unrealistic revenue expectations and concessions from the unions that have not been even presented in contract negotiations, much less realized, for anyone to believe that this is a responsible, balanced or legal budget must be able to see that magic section that includes things being paid for with pixie dust.


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