Michael Murphy
Press Release

Council leaders call for removal of last-minute police and fire benefit mandate in state budget

News release from Alds. Michael J. Murphy and Nik Kovac

By - Jul 9th, 2015 04:57 pm

Calling it “a direct attack on Milwaukee’s home rule authority,” Common Council President Michael J. Murphy on Thursday called on Governor Scott Walker to use his veto power to remove from the state budget a newly-added provision mandating that the city must offer police and firefighters premium health care benefits.

The Senate passed Amendment 1 to SB 21 on Tuesday night, and the provision in question [Page 608, Lines 1-6, 66.0137 (4t)] would require Milwaukee, and only Milwaukee, to offer a new health benefit option to the city’s sworn employees. The Department of Employee Relations estimates that the mandate could cost city taxpayers up to $6 million more a year.

“It’s no surprise Republicans in the legislature chose to bury this mandate deep in the budget under cover of night,” President Murphy said. “Why would the legislature heap these gifts on the only two unions left in the state that can collectively bargain for themselves? This feels like political payback to unions who consistently support the GOP.”

Murphy said Milwaukee has continuously demonstrated financial responsibility in managing its own health care costs, keeping them virtually unchanged for four years running. With nearly 60 percent of the city’s annual operating budget spent on police and fire services already and continued property tax levy limits imposed by the state, Finance and Personnel Committee chair Alderman Nik Kovac questioned the rationale behind the mandate.

“How does this policy item, slipped last minute into the budget, create the ‘tools’ we need to more efficiently run the city?” Kovac said.

Murphy and Kovac said they have formally asked the governor to remove the measure from the budget before he signs it into law.

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4 thoughts on “Council leaders call for removal of last-minute police and fire benefit mandate in state budget”

  1. David Ciepluch says:

    Thanks for catching this one. Another sign of Walker’s preferential treatment for a small segment of public workers, at the expense of all other public workers and the taxpayers that have to support it.

    Another form of Walker’s pay to play scams.

  2. Tim says:

    Can the city cut their pay to fund this?

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Tim Not really… So if I had to guess is that the net result here will be less police officers on the street.

  4. J Mazur says:

    I thought I’ve seen and heard everything but this tops everything. I just cannot understand how blatantly the legislature awards it’s supporters in the face of restrictions on education, environment and voting rights. I am grateful for Alderman Murphy’s and Kovac’s immediate response.

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