MADISON, Wis. — As Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker proposed budgets to increase spending 35 percent, far ahead of the more modest spending plans of Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to an analysis by One Wisconsin Now.
“Walker poses for holy pictures when discussing taxes and spending issues, but the devil’s in the details and his halo’s not so shiny,” Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director said.
“Walker’s proposed spending increases were higher than that of the City of Milwaukee and the entire state of Wisconsin’s under their current executives.”
One Wisconsin Now’s analysis took the official budgets proposed by Barrett, Doyle and Walker and charted the budget-by-budget increases each subsequently proposed. Walker topped the list, his budget requests growing 10 percent higher than the rate proposed by Mayor Barrett and 50 percent higher than Gov. Doyle’s.
“The figures do not reflect changes made by their respective legislative bodies,” said Ross. “But the spending proposed by the elected executives themselves, giving the clearest possible picture of their own records.”
Despite Walker’s proposed higher spending, Milwaukee County has suffered because of Walker’s fiscal mismanagement, skewed priorities and multiple attempts to privatize substantial portions of the county’s public service. For example:
- Walker’s food stamp call center had to be taken over by the state because poor management and drastic understaffing caused one in five deserving applicants to be denied aid in 2008 alone. With hundreds of thousands of calls, over 90 percent were unanswered. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/3/09]
- Walker supported massive pay increases for his top staff, but has tried to slash critical services and increase numerous municipal fees. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/24/09, 1/3/09]
- Walker’s behavioral health division head fumbled the Medicaid budget causing a $3.6 million deficit. Walker responded by sending pink slips to 180 county workers the month before the holidays, only to rescind them and telling a radio host he did it as a political negotiating ploy. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/28/09, 11/3/09]
- Walker privatized janitorial services by giving a lucrative no-bid contract to a valued campaign donor, despite rules signed by Walker forbidding such practice. [Daily Reporter, 3/31/04; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/24/09]
- Walker’s county parks department is $200-million behind in maintenance projects, in a hole so deep a recent audit proposed selling off some of the county’s park land to maintain the parks Walker has neglected. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/4/10]
“This is a great topic next time Walker speaks at an event for the tea party extremists or during his weekly on-air chat with Charlie Sykes,” Ross said, “He can talk about how his proposed budget spending topped both that of Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett.”
Walker’s record on county spending was unsurprising, Ross said, given a similar analysis of Walker’s record in the state legislature. The analysis, completed by One Wisconsin Now in November, showed Walker voted for five straight biennial budgets which increased state spending by 84 percent. Walker’s unanimous support for this record-setting period of spending saw the state budget grow by $22 billion.