Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Board Opposes State Shared Revenue Plan

County board proposal demands hike in state aid with no strings attached.

By - May 26th, 2023 04:51 pm

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

‘Yes’ to increased state funding and ‘No’ to any strings attached. That was the message sent by the Milwaukee County Board Thursday.

The board passed a resolution authored by Sup. Ryan Clancy supporting increased state aid “with full autonomy and without restrictions from the State of Wisconsin.”

The resolution was debated and voted on in the backdrop of ongoing negotiations at the state level over Republican-sponsored legislation that would change the way local governments across the state are funded. The legislation is a result of years of lobbying by the county, City of Milwaukee and municipalities and counties across the state, seeking reforms to the state’s “Shared Revenue” system for funding local governments. Shared revenue payments have been frozen for more than a decade, while annual inflation has driven government costs higher.

Bills making there way through Wisconsin State Legislature would give the county an increase in shared revenue (14.6% in the Assembly bill and 10% in the Senate bill) from the payment it received approximately a decade ago, and it would authorize it to hold a binding referendum on an additional 0.375% county sales tax atop the existing 0.5% county tax.

But the increased funding comes with restrictions. Namely, the board would need a two-thirds majority to create any new spending, whereas it currently only needs a simple majority. Additionally, supervisors would no longer be able to put information-seeking, advisory referendums on county ballots.

This was authored by me about six weeks ago,” Clancy said of his resolution. The supervisor also serves as a representative in the Assembly. “I lacked the imagination, to even conceive of how many terrible things would be in [state shared revenue bills].”

Clancy said that the restrictions come attached to a smaller percentage increase in shared revenue than many other counties and municipalities are receiving. “They’re asking us to sell out for just crumbs,” he said. Clancy also said that the additional funding is actually “more of our own money back because Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are subsidizing the rest of the state.”

The board passed Clancy’s resolution, 14-2-1, with supervisors Steve Taylor and Patti Logsdon voting against, and Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson excused from the meeting at the time of the vote.

Taylor said he supports increased shared revenue, and doubts whether the proposed sales tax increase is enough to actually fix the county’s problems. On the restrictions, he said, “I believe in guardrails, and I think we should have strings attached and what we can spend the money on and what we should not spend the money on, because of our past history of how we spend money.”

Taylor referenced a road project that recently came back before the board in May. The board had previously scuttled the project in 2021, when it had state funding to cover construction costs, now the county will have to pay the entire bill.

Logsdon said she thought the restrictions were likely because of the 2001 pension scandal, which has fueled the county’s out-of-control pension costs.

Sup. Kathleen Vincent said she thought increased shared revenue without strings attached was an equity issue for the county. “The fact that Milwaukee County is the only county they’re doing this to should scream volumes to everyone,” she said.

Sup. Steven Shea disagreed with Taylor’s characterization that the county was asking for a “blank check,” saying the county was simply asking for its “fair share.”

May I remind you, they spent $1 to $2 million on a project to find voter fraud that came up with zero,” Shea said. “So when it comes to spending funds wide wisely, the state legislature needs to lead by example.”

County Executive David Crowley, while still negotiating on aspects of the legislation, has supported the state proposal.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

6 thoughts on “MKE County: County Board Opposes State Shared Revenue Plan”

  1. ZeeManMke says:

    Yes! I think I will go over to the grocery store and demand some free food. Then over for some free gas. And then over to Brown Deer Park for some free golf. I want the County to get its fair share. But making demands when you have zero bargaining power is foolish. All this stunt will do is upset the folks with the cash. No doubt they mean well…I will let you all know how my demands for free stuff goes unless I end up in the County Jail.

  2. Ryan Cotic says:

    The city of milwaukee leaders are fools and will destroy this wonderful city if they keep up this act

  3. ZeeManMke says:

    Well, that was disappointing. The grocery store threw me out. The gas station was I think calling the Sheriff as I washed my car windows before demanding my free gas! Over at Brown Deer Park all these fancy cars and golfers! But as I approached the clubhouse for my free round of golf, a skunk came out of the bushes and sprayed the front door. So the whole thing was a bust!

    The smartest person I ever met at the Courthouse was the guy who shined shoes on the ground floor. I wrote in his name in the last County Executive race.

  4. mkwagner says:

    On what planet are the other commenters living? They somehow think that our city and county are begging for handouts. Milwaukee is the economic engine for the entire state. As Milwaukee goes so goes the state of Wisconsin. So your grocery store and gas station analogies miss the mark by a country mile.
    In truth, the state legislature has been taking from Milwaukee tax payers to pay for ridiculous and corrupt commissions as well as expensive, foolhardy investments while handing out massive tax cuts to the very wealthiest (too many of whom don’t pay state taxes.) The more apt analogy is the Golden Goose. Voss and company are bound and determined to drain all the wealth they can from Milwaukee and then blame the city and county for bad management (the pension disaster was over 20 years ago. Walker was going to fix it, but didn’t. Once Walker was governor, he and Voss & Co passed one bill after another the made our pension problems worst.) The fools in this farce are Voss and company.

  5. Colin says:

    Exactly mkwagner. Too busy drinking the talk radio koolaid or something – they don’t live in any sort of reality lol.

  6. ZeeManMke says:

    Hahaha! Drinking kool-aide? For a decade or more, Milwaukee city and county politicians cry and moan – “We don’t get our fair share.” That is true. Aside from crying about it what have they done to do something about it? They have bowed down to the very people withholding what we deserve and gone out of their way to please them. For example, Waukesha needs water? Why? Because they overdeveloped and did nothing to protect the water they had. Instead of saying, “You need water? Give us our fair share of our money back first,” they said, “Sure, how much do you need?” The county board blasting them is just more of acting like a crybaby instead of doing something to help the people here. Bitching about it has accomplished nothing.

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