Lipscomb Reaffirms Wisconsin’s Good Government Values
Asks Legislators to Reject Bill that Would Undo Checks and Balances
MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin State Assembly committee will consider a bill tomorrow that could eliminate longstanding democratic principles and grant sweeping new powers to county executives and county administrators. Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., called on state legislators to reaffirm the checks and balances that ensure local government can function effectively by rejecting the bill.
“Government works best when elected leaders are responsive to the will of the people. When 72% of voters rejected a proposal to double Milwaukee County’s wheel tax we listened, and found a better way to balance the budget. If it becomes law, the new powers granted in this bill could allow a county executive to impose a higher wheel tax, or other fees such as for parking in public parks, even over the objection of voters and the legislative branch. We need more accountability in government, not less. We should be shoring up and reinforcing Wisconsin’s foundation of good government, not undermining it.” said Lipscomb.
The draft legislation, known as Assembly Bill 923 and Senate Bill 777, would dramatically shift authority from diverse, representative county boards to just one person, and extend the kinds of complex legal conflicts seen in Milwaukee County to local governments statewide.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is leading the push for the bill, which would eradicate common sense fiscal controls, allow the hiring of an unlimited number of people, and provide unlimited power over compensation and benefits. These provisions could easily encourage cronyism and corruption by removing commonplace oversight over billions of dollars in annual contracts and operations.
The bill declares that, “To the extent that an action of the board conflicts with the powers of the county executive or the county administrator, the action of the executive or administrator, to the extent of the conflict, shall prevail.” (Section 41, Page 23). If adopted, this broad language on conflicts, which is unlimited in the bill, would potentially establish county executives and county administrators as above the law by rendering independent judicial review of policy and budget conflicts essentially meaningless, as the position of the county executive would always be presumed supreme under the law.
AB 923 is scheduled for a hearing in Madison at 10AM tomorrow, February 14, 2018.