Thursday, October 01, 2009

Walker Built His Budget on the Sand

Last week Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker started his annual shell game sometimes referred to as a budget. In fact it is little more than a political document meant to cover some of his self inflicted wounds long enough for him to try and leave town via next year's election. I've already written on several factors of Walker's proposed 2010 budget but the closer that you look at it the more it resembles a house built without a foundation. He and his followers can try to put pretty curtains in the windows but it won't take long and it won't take much for the entire thing to come crashing down.

We already know that his budget relies heavily on the Milwaukee County credit card as Walker plans on front loading three years of borrowing and spending into one year (an election year). We know that it's tax levy is more than 18 percent higher than the one he proposed in 2003. We also know that it relies on new and hiked fees. But one of the other key things that he is trying to build his budget on is perhaps even more flimsy than all of those. The Walker proposed 2010 budget relies on some $32 million in concessions by county workers that he has not secured, negotiated or even mentioned until now. Even though the union has been at the negotiating table with the county for some time and already agreed to certain concessions, neither Walker nor his representatives have made a peep about the 13% wage/benefit cuts that he is trying to build his budget on. How can you build a house when you don't have a foundation? I don't know, I imagine that it's about the same way that you build a budget without one. It's all about show and little about reality.

It is tragic that the media hasn't challenged him on this point at all (or on many others). Why not ask the obvious and very simple question? What happens to your budget when you don't get $32 million of concessions? I don't know what spin Walker would give but I can tell you exactly what would happen. Walker's show budget will come falling down and the county board will have to pick up his repeated slack and build a real budget based on a solid foundation-again.

The closer that I look at Walker's 2010 proposed budget the more it reminds me of a very simple lesson that I learned through a Sunday school song as a child. "The Wise Man Built his House Upon a Rock" is a simple lesson on the importance of having a solid foundation. The "Wise Man" built his house on a rock and the "Foolish Man" built his house on the sand. When the rains and floods came the "Wise Man's" house stood firm and the "Foolish Man's" house fell flat. Based on his 2010 proposed budget, Scott Walker is a very foolish man because he just built his "house" on nothing but "sand".

UPDATE: In Friday's MJS story about this very subject, a new analysis describes this element of Walker's budget as "very unrealistic". Yeah, like I said on Thursday, it is "built on sand".

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