From mismanagement of numerous county departments, to budget gimmicks, to layoffs for county workers, to deteriorating infrastructure and many others, County Executive Scott Walker's policies have failed the people of Milwaukee County.
Scott Walker promised fiscal responsibility but his track record as Milwaukee County Executive is riddled with financial mismanagement and busted budgets.
Unlike the state, which under Governor Doyle’s leadership has ended every year with a balanced budget, Scott Walker racked up budget deficits in 2003 and 2004.
Milwaukee County has also faced huge mid-year budget deficits every year Walker’s been in office due to his mismanagement. Those deficits have resulted in draconian cuts and big fee increases to vital services like public transportation.
The county's public institutions have also faced neglect and closures — including the park system and the county’s once-vibrant community pool system.
Contrary to his claims of fiscal restraint, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has proposed increasing county spending 35% since 2002.
This is not the first time Walker has supported substantial spending increases. As a member of the state legislature, Walker voted to increase state budget spending 84 percent — over $22 billion in increases over five budgets. The $200 billion in total state budget spending Walker voted for led to a then-record $3 billion state budget deficit.
Scott Walker’s proposed budget spending as county executive far exceeded Governor Doyle’s proposed spending over the same period – 35% to 21%. Walker also created a mountain of deferred costs that future generations will have to pay for, like the $200 million needed for the county parks system and untold millions to prop up the nearly bankrupt public transit system.
Though Scott Walker boasts of his frugality in his campaign TV ads, he gave himself a $50,000 pay raise after his successful 2008 re-election. His top county staff has received generous increases under Walker and the salary, health care and pension benefits that his family enjoys have continued unabated.
Scott Walker has found a lifetime of service on the public dime personally enriching and he was even able to purchase a new home with a big, in-ground pool, despite his endless cuts to services that those most in need rely upon throughout the county.
Despite the promotion of fiscal responsibility, Walker proposed hiking the county budget by more than $380 million. Accounting for his increases includes borrowing for capital projects and an expected influx of federal stimulus money. Walker also continued his yearly effort to reduce the numbers of sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers by proposing staff reductions yet again.
And despite penning an infamous anti-Recovery Act screed in the Wall Street Journal, Walker hypocritically had his handout when it came to accepting funds in the federal legislation to create jobs and support the infrastructure in Milwaukee County.
During Scott Walker’s eight-year tenure, county residents have the seen the takeover of the county welfare office and call center, the House of Corrections, the nationally-recognized health care program, GAMP — for the low-income and homeless — and an economic development office was turned over to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by Governor Doyle.
Scott Walker has proposed eliminating county government completely, urged the state to take over the county court system, offered up privatizing the successful and income-generating Milwaukee County airport, and contracted with courthouse security and prison transport companies who knowingly employed perpetrators of sexual assault.
That’s on top of gross negligence at the Mental Health Complex throughout his eight years that has led to deaths by starvation and patients becoming victims of sexual assault. Walker has steadfastly refused to fire his administrator in charge of the complex.
Scott Walker refused to accept federal stimulus money before he started to take it. Recovery Act funds paid for unemployment aid for 125,000 families dealing with job loss, health care coverage for 245,000 low-income children and families, and food assistance for over 175,000 low-income adults and children. Walker would have shortchanged Wisconsin families over $8 billion in aid to boost our economy and help families get through this recession.
Scott Walker’s campaign has centered on a “brown bag” theme that was actually borrowed from a 1998 U.S. Senate campaign in Ohio. Walker has trotted out a number of proposals throughout his campaign for governor that defy common sense and are little more than gimmicks.
Even though the state is facing a $2.5 billion budget deficit, he has promised to give out over $2 billion (and counting) in tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and big businesses. That’s $4 billion in state spending that he’swill have to cut, such as education, local police and fire services, health care and higher education spending. On top of that, he wants to shift another $1 billion out of the state budget — and still won’t say how he will pay for it.
He claims he will create “250,000 jobs” in Wisconsin, which if done would essentially reduce the unemployment rate to zero. The lowest recorded unemployment rate in recent Wisconsin history is 2.4 percent in 1999.
Despite the fact that he’s been on the public payroll since the early 1990's and his state and county pension benefits have been paid in full by taxpayers. He has claimed he will begin paying part of his pension benefits if elected governor and will make all state employees do the same, saving around $180 million — just another $5.3 billion to go. Walker has implied he can pay for his tax cuts and balance the budget by cutting state worker pay and benefits. To raise $5 billion, he would need to cut state worker pay and benefits by over 50 percent, or slash 37,000 state jobs. That’s thousands of teachers, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, prison guards and state troopers who provide public safety, and health care workers who assist the elderly and people with disabilities.
"Jobs, jobs, jobs. ...As President Bush said on Friday, 'the American economy heads into 2006 with a full head of team.' Thanks, in part, to the tax cuts pushed by President Bush in 2001 and again in 2003, the economy is headed in the right direction. Most importantly, Americans' businesses are headed in the right direction." [Scott Walker, 1/7/2006]
On no other issue has Scott Walker provided less leadership than jobs. In 2009 alone, Milwaukee County lost over 30,000 jobs. Walker’s failure to prioritize job creation and economic development has devastated Milwaukee County’s workers. Walker has punted responsibility or mismanaged three job creation and economic development offices. After several years of cutting funding by almost 50 percent to the Office of Community Business Development Partners, the County Board took control of the division in 2006. In his 2007 budget, Walker first stripped millions of dollars from the Department of Administrative Service’s Economic and Community Development Division, and then completely eliminated the division in 2009.
In 2007, due to Walker’s inaction, the state was forced to strip authority from Walker over the Private Industry Council and give it to the City of Milwaukee after complaints about its effectiveness and loss of funding sources.