I just sat through about 20 minutes of political talking points with very little substance and whole mountain of double talk. In other words, I just listened to Scott Walker give a speech proposing a 2010 budget that has more to do with his campaign for governor than it does with what is best for Milwaukee County. Essentially he is treating the Milwaukee County budget as if it is really his campaign's credit card, but unfortunately the rest of us have to deal with the maxed out balance later.
The most important thing to point out right from the top is this simple fact:
Walker's proposed budget for 2003 carried a total property tax levy of $218,708,524
Walker's proposed budget for 2010 carries a total property tax levy of $257,637,284
That amounts to an increase of over 18% in the property tax levy during his time as County Executive! Those are Walker's PROPOSED budget numbers, so they can't be laid at anyone else's feet but his (but God knows he will try). With this kind of increase between his first proposed budget and his most recent, he should have to answer a few questions the next time that he tries to lecture anyone about an increase in the tax levy. Reporters and the public should be demanding answers based on this reality rather than based in his delusionary talking points. Walker is just as much of a "big spender" as anyone else.
To further that point. It looks like Walker is not only going to rely on another increase in the tax levy (in HIS proposed budget) but he now wants Milwaukee County take on a massive amount of debt. Shamelessly after attacking the federal stimulus from the very beginning, now Walker has had a convenient change of heart. Now he is heavily relying on stimulus programs that help pay large amounts of interest on his planned increase in borrowing. Will real conservatives that really hate the stimulus hold him accountable?
During his reading of campaign talking points today, he said that he would reject front loading the money won by the county in the pension scandal lawsuit. While he apparently is against front loading that money to pay for his increased spending, he does not appear to be shy at all about front loading other monies. Essentially Walker is trying to spend three years of bonding in one year, and yes it just happens to be the same year that he is running for governor. He is perfectly willing to run up the Milwaukee County credit card for one year with the hopes of leaving the massive debt to the taxpayers as he again tries to leave town.
There is a lot of low hanging fruit that I could rail on after listening to Walker's campaign speech today, but there will certainly be much more time to address the rest. Right now I think that the most important action that we can take is to tell Scott Walker that the Milwaukee County budget is not his campaign's credit card and he should not be trying to use it as such!
Update: The money quote from the MJS story on the speech:
Despite his fiscal austerity theme, Walker's overall county budget would grow by
more than 6% to almost $1.5 billion next year. Greatly increasing borrowing for
capital projects and an expected influx of federal stimulus aid account for much
of the overall budget growth. Walker wants to more than triple annual borrowing
in 2010 to create his own local economic stimulus plan.