Thoughts on the County Budget Proposal from Scott Walker

Given the economic times and the financial condition of the badger state, it is not surprising that employers are tightening their belts until the famine has passed.  Private sector employers have begun to slough off workers and the unemployment rate is approaching 9% in Wisconsin.  Changes in the private sector, however, haven't exactly mirrored the public.  As the citizenry had anticipated major cuts in government budgets, Governor Doyle and other state leaders have instead ratcheted up spending by more than 6%. 

Just Thursday, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker delivered his 201o budget proposal.  It took only a couple of hours before liberal bloggers mangled it and lied about his record.  I say this with unadulterated sincerity; I would much rather produce original content on my blog than spend most of my time correcting the unsubstantiated accusations of bloggers.  Unfortunately, if nobody bothers to correct them, then a single narrative is created.   

In the current era of information, the internet is a great asset.  But in the political Colosseum, bloggers operate without a code of conduct.  They attack individuals with no restraint, make no apologies, and they rarely check their facts.  And when they're called to the carpet for misinformation, they don't retract their posts.  This being said, I would like to address an article published yesterday on the EyeOnWisconsin.com.  

"Eye On Wisconsin" Provides Intentionally Misleading Information 

Walker On Property Tax Levy Increases

In a recent post that considers Walker's budget announcement, Cory Liebmann pins the blame of an 18% property tax levy increase on Scott Walker.  According to Liebmann, from 2003 to 2010, the property tax levy has increased from $218,708,524 to $257,637,284. A serious problem not mentioned by Liebmann, however, is that Walker never put tax increases into his budget proposals.

For the past 8 consecutive budget cycles, Scott Walker has written in a 0% property tax increase into the County budget.  When it reaches the Milwaukee County Board, they affix a property tax levy increase and send it back to Walker.  Walker then vetoes the change, which prompts the Board to override it.  Therefore, if taxes are increased under Walker's watch, it's because his veto pen isn't mighty enough to protect the taxpayers from the Milwaukee County Board.  Increases in the property tax levy has nothing to do with Scott Walker. 

Liebmann, of course, knows this and is therefore intentionally misleading readers.  Make note that he is careful not to blame Walker directly for the tax increase.  Instead, he implies that Walker is responsible by merely being in office when the increases occur.  This may not be lying, but it's pretty damn close.  This type of misinformation, unfortunately, has become par for the course with liberal bloggers.  And it will only get worse as the gubernatorial race gains momentum.   

Walker On Utilizing Federal Stimulus    

Liebmann also points out that it's shameful for Walker to use federal stimulus dollars to help pay off the interest on borrowing when he opposed stimulus earlier this year.  What Liebmann doesn't mention is that Walker is not against all forms of federal stimulus.  Walker has made it clear from the beginning that he only opposes stimulus funds that require taxpayers to make additional contributions.  And since the stimulus that Walker is willing to accept now will not add a dime more to our property taxes, Walker has agreed to utilize it in his 2010 budget.

It's important to remember that liberal bloggers have characterized Walker as a politician that rejects anything that says "stimulus".  This is necessary to make Walker seem like he flip-flops for political expediency.  This couldn't be further from the truth. 

Walker on Borrowing Limits 

And finally Liebmann says,

"Essentially Walker is trying to spend three years of bonding in one year, and yes it just happens to be the same year that he is running for governor. He is perfectly willing to run up the Milwaukee County credit card for one year with the hopes of leaving the massive debt to the taxpayers as he again tries to leave town."

Liebmann is correct that Walker is trying to spend three years of bonding in one year, but his conclusion that his borrowing will leave a massive debt for taxpayers is absolutely incorrect.  For years, Milwaukee County has a self-imposed borrowing limit of about $30 million a year.  This limit was instituted to ensure that the county would not borrow more than it could afford.  However, Walker would like to increase the borrowing for the next three years in order to pay for "new roads, buses, and other major purchases" (you know, all the things that liberals would like).  By doing this, the County can take advantage of a special interest rate subsidy from the federal government. 

Although the borrowing will be intensified for the next three years, the county will not borrow anything for capital projects in 2011 and 2012.  By doing this, the aggregate borrowing over the next few years will still average the $30 million a year.  The point is to provide a local stimulus package without requiring an increase in taxes to support the borrowing.  A stimulus without burdening the taxpayer has been a consistent theme of Walker since the beginning of this year. 

It's important to understand that Walker's spending scenario is  similar to buying a month supply of groceries right away rather than shopping in one-week increments for four weeks.  Sure you'll need to take out more money to purchase a larger supply of goods, but in the end, you will not owe any more than you would have if you paid in smaller installments. 

Final Thoughts on Liberal Bloggers

What liberals like Liebmann don't seem to understand is the absolute hypocrisy of their statements.  The politicians they have elected to office have positioned Wisconsin into a record-breaking 7 billion dollar deficit.  Their liberal politicians refused to cut programs and to restrain spending.  And now our great state is in an unsustainable fiscal arrest. 

You will not find a single peep out of the liberal blogosphere about how Wisconsin found itself in its current fiscal mess.  Instead, they point the finger at Walker for an increase in a property tax levy that the Milwaukee County Board actually put into the budget.  Perhaps Liebmann should rename his blog "Eye on Walker" since he's not keeping an eye on Wisconsin.  If he were, he would have called out Doyle for contributing to an enormous budget deficit. 

At a time when politicians don't know the meaning of "spending restraint", the last thing Scott Walker needs to hear from liberals is a lecture on fiscal responsibility.  At least when Neumann criticizes Walker for increased borrowing, he has a leg to stand on.  Until liberals get a handle on the state budget deficit, they ought to keep their mouths shut about the County budget.   



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