Walker claims nonexistent commitment to Milwaukee County’s mentally ill

After spending eight years dismantling Milwaukee county’s core services, safety net services, quality of life services, and transportation, at a recent listening tour/campaign event Scott Walker made the claim that he will continue his “commitment” to these services. But, there can be no “commitment to continue”, because there’s never been a commitment to providing these services in the first place.

And he got called out on it by Stephanie Bloomingdale of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP). WFNHP represents nurses at the severely short-staffed and underfunded county Mental Health Complex.

During Walker’s tenure, the Behavior Health Division, which runs the Mental Health Complex, has come under severe scrutiny and reprimand for its deadly neglect and mismanagement of the county’s most vulnerable: deaths, starvation, rape, assaults, and security lapses endangering the lives of patients, doctors and nurses.

Stephanie asked Walker the following question:

“I’m primarily concerned today about mental health services. And I would like to know Mr. Walker, do you intend to make the significant and severe cuts to mental services that you have year after year after year in this next budget?” Bloomingdale says.

Walker says the objective is not to cut funds going to the Mental Health Complex.

“We have in terms of a goal that we gave the behavioral health division, which includes obviously the mental health complex, kept them intact and tried to give them some help for the 2011 budget in terms of what their goals are. We’re not asking as other departments have been asked in the past for cuts to try and balance the budget,” Walker says.

Kudos for Stephanie for standing up for her patients, and maybe state and county audits will shed some light on what those goals are that Walker was referring to. While going on record saying he won’t make cuts to a program hasn’t stopped him from proposing cuts in the past, at least the public has something to hold him accountable to.

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