Evers Says Fixing Financial Relationship Between State, Milwaukee and Other Cities Is Top Priority
But his proposal leaves Milwaukee far short of the revenue it needs to avoid substantial cuts.
“The State of Wisconsin has failed our municipalities, especially when it comes to Milwaukee,” said Evers in an appearance before the Rotary Club of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Press Club on Tuesday afternoon. “It is my priority in this next budget, period.”
Adjusted for inflation, the city of Milwaukee’s budget office reports Milwaukee receives $155 million less annually in shared revenue than it did in 2000.
With the city facing an annual structural deficit in excess of $100 million, an increase in shared revenue could go a long way, as would a sales tax that Mayor Cavalier Johnson is seeking legislative approval for. The city is delaying sizable cuts currently by exhausting its $394.2 million federal American Rescue Plan Act grant, in advance of 2025.
Evers touted his proposal Tuesday to increase shared revenue by 8% over the next two years.
“We have to increase shared revenue. Simple as that. That will be my top priority. There is only so much [cities] can do without money,” said Evers. “I know that this city sends a lot of tax money down the road to Madison. You should be getting more than 0% increases over the last 10 years.”
But the amount he is proposing is far short of what Milwaukee needs. An approximately 8% increase would net the city an additional $17.5 million annually on top of the $219.1 million it is budgeting to receive in 2023. An additional public safety supplement proposed by Evers would grant the city an additional $478,000 annually. The Milwaukee Police Department budget alone in 2023 is planned to be $300 million.
And despite it being Evers’s top priority, the governor faces a roadblock: the Wisconsin State Legislature. The governor proposed a 2% increase in 2019 and a 4% increase in 2022, both were stripped by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Evers also proposed allowing municipalities with more than 30,000 people to levy a 0.5% sales tax, but the legislature blocked that policy.
The revenue issue isn’t one limited to just Milwaukee. “Brookfield, one of the most wealthy communities in the state, they too are approaching a problem point in the next few years where they won’t be able to pay their bills,” said Mayor Johnson in an interview previewing his 2023 budget. “And if the state’s system for funding local governments does not work for a community that is as wealthy and as well resourced as Brookfield, then it simply doesn’t work.”
The state, meanwhile, is poised to have an approximately $5 billion budget surplus in July 2023.
In addition to his remarks on shared revenue, Evers discussed his support for abortion rights, the need to provide rural broadband, that he did not directly make decisions on paroles and that his administration provided everything requested of it during the 2020 Kenosha riots.
Evers faces Tim Michels in a hotly-contested re-election bid.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.
- Murphy’s Law: How David Crowley Led on Sales Tax - Bruce Murphy - Aug 23rd, 2023
- MKE County: Supervisors Engage in the Great Sales Tax Debate - Graham Kilmer - Jul 28th, 2023
- MKE County: County Board Approves Sales Tax - Graham Kilmer - Jul 27th, 2023
- County Executive David Crowley Celebrates County Board Vote to Secure Fiscal Future and Preserve Critical Services for Most Vulnerable Residents - County Executive David Crowley - Jul 27th, 2023
- MKE County: Supervisors Seek to Delay Sales Tax Vote - Graham Kilmer - Jul 27th, 2023
- Transportation: Without Sales Tax Hike Paratransit Will Shrink - Graham Kilmer - Jul 26th, 2023
- Murphy’s Law: Time for County Board to Guts Up - Bruce Murphy - Jul 24th, 2023
- Supervisor Coggs-Jones and Vice Chair Taylor Hosting Town Hall Meeting on Proposed Sales Tax Increase - Sup. Priscilla E Coggs-Jones - Jul 24th, 2023
- Supervisors Vincent and Logsdon Invite Constituents to Town Hall Meeting on Proposed Sales Tax Increase - Sup. Kathleen Vincent - Jul 21st, 2023
- Supervisor Sheldon A. Wasserman Hosting Town Hall Meeting on Proposed Sales Tax Increase - Sup. Sheldon Wasserman - Jul 20th, 2023
Read more about Local Government Fiscal Crisis here