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Another Year, Another Illegal Deficit

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on November 29, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

The County Board had their votes today on Scott Walker’s vetoes for the 2011 budget.  Expectations, based on the Boards original votes, were that the Board would override very few of the vetoes.  In a surprising turn of events, the Board actually overrode 11 out of 15 of Walker’s vetoes.

The Board voted to override all of Walker’s vetoes regarding benefits and pay raises.  The reason for this is clear.  You can ask any Supervisor, and if they are honest with you, they would tell you that the legal staff repeatedly advised them that the budget was illegal and would not stand in an arbitration or a court hearing.  By overriding Walker’s vetoes, they are hoping that the unions would be more willing to accept these, or at least use it as a starting point to get some much needed concessions.

The Board also overrode Walker’s veto of adding a million dollars to the contingency fund.  This was also very important, even if insufficient, to help ease the problems that are guaranteed to arise, like the $8 million deficit that the County is facing for the 2010 budget.  By overriding this veto now, they have saved tax payers a ton of money in 2013.

The Board also took the responsible action of overriding Walker’s veto on the Farm and Fish Hatchery.  Why Walker would veto it (for the eighth straight time) or why anyone voted against the override is beyond comprehension.  Given the dire fiscal straits that the County is in, it should be a no brainer to pay so little for the food that will help thousands of starving Milwaukeeans.

The Board also voted to allow the South Shore Relocation Capital Project to remain alive.  This will allow the County to team up with the Untied States Corps of Engineers to study and start to move the beach, which often has to be closed due to unsafe levels of bacteria.

Unfortunately, the Board failed to override the vetoes regarding the two indoor aquatic center and the two community centers.

We recognize and applaud the hard work that the County Board put into this, most notably, Supervizor Elizabeth Coggs and the members of the Finance and Audit Committee.  They were handed a toxic mess with a gaping deficit illegally constructed within it.

That said, we must restate that this is an illegal budget and that even though the Board went a long way to fill in the hole put in by Scott Walker, it is still a hole.  The Board must now sit down with the unions and bargain in earnest and good faith before the deficit gets even further out of hand.

That task should become somewhat easier when Walker is no longer around to sabotage said efforts.



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