Over the past few years, Milwaukee County leaders have faced some difficult budget decisions. Many efficiencies have been found, and tough cuts have been made. But fundamentally, we don’t control our own destiny when it comes to balancing our budget. Fixed costs from past obligations, state mandates on services and limits in state law on how we can both raise revenues and benefit from our own economic development severely limit our options.
Right now, we’re at a turning point: If we don’t make significant changes to how counties are financed in this state, you will start to see a major shift in how – and how well – we can deliver services. Already, we’ve made cuts to funds for essential services. Already, we’ve been doing more with less. Already, the state isn’t fully funding the services it mandates. Already, we’ve had less available to fund things that are important to our community, like parks and public safety. Already, we’re racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and immediate needs for critical infrastructure.
If nothing changes at the state level with how we can raise revenue, this will continue to be the status quo. But what’s more disturbing is what’s to come. Without major shifts to our funding model, within a few short years, our obligations and mandates will consume all of our local tax levy – eating up any available funds for parks, public safety and other community priorities.
Milwaukee County provides programs that give a helping hand to many of the most vulnerable in our community, and we also offer services that improve everyone’s quality of life, from the airport to the zoo. Whether you live, play or work in Milwaukee County, you’re impacted by what we do – and by our budget challenges.
For our 2019 budget, we managed to close the gap for another year, but time’s running out on our ability to make temporary fixes. This is a problem we want to fix for generations, not one year at a time.
We are looking to build a coalition that will work with the State of Wisconsin to create a fairer funding model for Milwaukee County. We want to control our own destiny, we want to strengthen our community – and we want to invest in building a better 414.
We’re going to need your support. Sign up to keep receiving info on how you can help make sure the future of Milwaukee County is healthy, balanced and fair.