On Saturday, I spoke at a taxpayer rally at Veteran’s Park in Milwaukee. Thousands of people turned out to voice their opposition to big government and big spending.
I am amazed by the number of people attending taxpayer rallies across Wisconsin and across America who have never been involved in politics before. These are average citizens with extraordinary enthusiasm who share our commitment to take back our government, keep taxes low, and protect our personal freedoms. Their determination reminds me of the movement that began nearly eight years ago when we fought to take back our Milwaukee County government. We said “enough is enough” when it came to corruption, outrageous spending, and abuse. We are seeing those same frustrations today.
Since taking back our county government, we have worked together to reduce spending without raising taxes, and even during tough economic times, Milwaukee County posted a slight budget surplus in 2008. We can take back our state government the same way we took back county government, and together, change the way Madison does business.
On Saturday, I boldly said:
The pundits see events like this as all about anger. I see it as about hope. Economic prosperity for all is based on limited government, lower taxes, and restoration of personal liberties. Some people say more bureaucracy is our answer. We believe that giving people more freedom is the answer to our problems.
Thankfully, the problems we face are not irreparable. With the right leadership, we can build a better and brighter future for Wisconsin. Together, we can take back our state government and build a Wisconsin we can believe in again.
On Thursday, I will introduce my eighth consecutive county budget that does not raise the property tax levy from the previous year. In addition to protecting property taxpayers, our budget will not increase the sales tax or implement a wheel tax to help fund county government because these taxes place an added burden on struggling families and employers.
Rather, we balance the importance of maintaining vital human services and investing in our future with the need to control the growth of government spending to reflect our ability to pay.
Public-private partnerships are one of the ways we achieve these objectives.
The current partnership between Milwaukee County and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee allowed the county to invest $30 million in new capital projects at the Zoo with the majority of the money coming from the private sector.
Our Milwaukee County Zoo is one of the top in the country, and to best keep and improve the zoo, our budget moves toward the creation of a new, non-profit organization to manage its operations. The county would maintain a stable financial contribution while streamlining the management of the county staff with the education, conservation and fund-raising skills of the Zoological Society.
Instead of two management teams, two marketing campaigns and two different admission packages, the new, non-profit would have one unified program for the zoo and remove the duplication of staff. In addition, current and future donors will know their financial support will only fund the zoo and not be co-mingled with other county government operations.
The concept is not revolutionary but instead, commonsense. More than half of the major zoos in the United States are successfully run by non-profits. These great zoos include San Diego, Chicago (Lincoln Park), Dallas, Houston, and New York.
Our budget uses additional public-private partnerships to leverage private sector funds for capital improvements in the parks and other cultural institutions. Using tax dollars to leverage private investments allows these partnerships to help improve the quality of life for Milwaukee County residents while maximizing taxpayer resources.