At Governor Jim Doyle’s request, the Wisconsin Counties Association has asked all counties to quickly submit projects that might be funded by the coming federal stimulus plan. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that County Executive Scott Walker is refusing such federal assistance. The only possible explanation for such an irresponsible statement is that Walker is anticipating a primary in is never ending quest to be governor and is trying to score points with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. As usual, Milwaukee County taxpayers take a back seat.
Apparently Scott Walker doesn’t know that Milwaukee County residents also pay federal taxes and that they deserve and expect a local return on their investment. The stimulus plan is going to happen, and the money will be distributed, if not to Milwaukee County then certainly to Waukesha and others who likely won’t refuse the cash.
Scott Walker doesn’t seem to understand how important a quality infrastructure can be to a community and a region. While he has been County Executive we have witnessed the crumbling of that very infrastructure in countless areas. This is detrimental to the individual taxpayer and also to the larger economic development of the county. If his 2009 budget’s elimination of the Economic Development Director position did not send the signal that he doesn’t really care about this stuff, then his current actions certainly make that point very clearly.
Another sign that he is pandering to the rabid right wing is that he once again is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Milwaukee County accepts federal funding every single day on a broad array of programs and services. Is Scott Walker really saying that this is all terrible and we should no longer accept it? Why does Milwaukee County still have a paid lobbyist working in Washington, D.C. if Scott Walker has some problem with bringing as much federal dollars back home as possible?
In the last Transportation and Public Works Committee meeting it was revealed that Scott Walker was planning on applying for a federal Small Starts grant to help fund his Bus Rapid Transit plan. That FEDERAL program could pay between 50 and 80 percent of the costs of that program, which would translate into some $25-40 million. If Scott Walker is suddenly so opposed to accepting federal help, why was he planning on asking for it himself just a short time ago?
Given his record, you have to question every decision that Walker makes and whether it is really about his never ending quest for higher office. This latest irresponsible comment is certainly no exception. Although Walker may be trying to get on a campaign bus to the governor’s office, he actually just boarded the crazy train to bankruptcy. Milwaukee County is the economic engine of the state and represents some 20 percent of its population and that unfortunately means that all of us could be in for one scary ride.