Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker may have inherited a less than perfect situation but he has managed to make it so much worse. Rather than make sound budgetary decisions he has opted to manage by political calculation and blind ideology. Walker ‘s latest budget is certainly no exception as he is now proposing to cut over 300 jobs from an already strained workforce while also cutting many important programs for some of the most vulnerable people in Milwaukee County .
One of Walker ‘s proposed cuts should serve as a perfect example of his fundamentally flawed decision making. In the Behavioral Health Division there is a program that I am especially aware of called Targeted Case Management. My knowledge of this program comes from having a relative that has greatly benefited from it since its inception a number of years ago.
Targeted Case Management pairs up a person living with serious mental health issues, with a case manager who assists them in many areas of life that most of us take for granted. Many people struggling with serious mental illness sometimes don’t have the capacity to properly manage a checkbook, find and hold a job, or find and keep adequate housing. Targeted Case Management provides help and training in these and other important areas which helps each consumer with living to their full potential.
In Scott Walker’s current budget, he has cut this very effective program and has proposed that it be contracted out to a private vendor. This is not the first time that he has tried to privatize the program, it has almost become an annual tradition with him. It is a wonder that he keeps targeting this program because it has been so enormously effective while also managing to regularly stay below budget. So how does Scott Walker reward such efficiency? Naturally he has proposed to end the program and to auction its clients off to the highest bidder.
Walker ‘s latest numbers suggest that privatizing Targeted Case Management would save only $23,303. The managers of Targeted Case Management have shown that a few simple personnel moves, like eliminating one of the unrepresented and already vacant positions, would bring even more savings ($70,973) while also allowing the hugely successful program to continue. So what gives? Keeping the Targeted Case Management program would continue a very successful program while saving even more money and Walker still wants to end it? Why?
This is one example of a decision that should be a no brainer no matter where you stand politically. It has been an effective program that has performed under budget and would save taxpayers more than privatization. Apparently Walker is not really paying attention to dollars and cents nor is he willing to employ a little common sense. Scott Walker appears to be hopelessly addicted to the idea of privatization and if he can’t see the sense in keeping this program, he is surely in need of a major intervention.