Barrett, officials fight to stop Walker foreclosure settlement budget plan

CREATED Feb. 14, 2012 - UPDATED: Feb. 14, 2012

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  • Melissa McCrady reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Melissa McCrady reports. Video by wtmj.com

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  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined community leaders on the north side to fight Governor Scott Walker's plan to use federal mortgage relief money to fix a shortfall in the state budget.

Walker plans to take $25 million from a federal foreclosure settlement to fill part of the state budget.

"On this block, there are 32 properties," said Barrett at the gathering of civic leaders near the corner of North 38th and West Wright Street.  "The City of Milwaukee owns six of them."

Right now, nearly 5,000 Milwaukee homes sit empty due to foreclosures.

"We are the biggest property owner in the state on this block," claimed Barrett, who joined members of the Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) to offer their grievances about the plan.

He was thrilled to learn that Wisconsin would get $31 million as part of a federal foreclosure settlement, until Gov. Walker announced plans to use most of that to fix the state's $143 million shortfall.

The governor calls it a way to avoid raising taxes.

"The vast majority of the money from the settlement is going to individuals who have been victims of unfair practices," claims Walker.

Local officials don't buy it.

"This is wrong.  People must speak out.  These funds should be used to make people whole again," said Madison Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, who worked to get the federal funds.

Some lawmakers were trying to pass legislation that would require legislative approval for that to happen, but Barrett believed that would be a long shot.