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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Walker Inexplicably Fails to Destroy Milwaukee

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BREAKING: despite prognostications of doom and apocalyptic predictions from Mayor Tom Barrett, it turns out that Walker's budget actually leaves Milwaukee better off. Shame! Recall them all!

 

Despite early criticism from city officials, new figures show Milwaukee will gain more than it will lose next year from the state's controversial budget and budget-repair legislation.

The city projects it will save at least $25 million a year - and potentially as much as $36 million in 2012 - from health care benefit changes it didn't have to negotiate with unions, as a result of provisions in the 2009-'11 budget-repair measure that ended most collective bargaining for most public employees.

That saving would be partly offset by about $14 million in cuts in state aid to the city in the 2011-'13 state budget, down from earlier estimates of more than $17 million.

As a result, the city would come out with a net gain of at least $11 million for its 2012 budget, slicing into the "structural deficit" created by costs rising faster than revenue, and reducing the spending cuts that Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council must impose.

That outlook contrasts sharply with Barrett's initial comments in March, after Gov. Scott Walker and the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released figures on the extent of the aid cuts in Walker's budget.

At that time, Barrett said the combination of aid cuts, rising expenses, a property tax levy freeze and exempting public safety workers from health care and pension benefit changes "just makes our structural deficit explode."

Barrett now says the health care benefit changes are a major factor in helping the city balance its budget...

So, Barrett, being a class guy is giving credit where credit is due and acknowledging that he was wrong. Not.

But the Democratic mayor isn't giving the credit to Walker, the Republican who defeated him in November's gubernatorial election.

 

"It's a false question," Barrett said when asked whether Walker was right in his contention that his bargaining changes more than offset the impact of his aid cuts. 

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