Saturday, April 29, 2006

Walker Succumbs to "Milwaukee Disease"

Not that anyone with a half-a-brain is surprised:

[Walker] has kept tax increases off the table but pitches some ideas that could spread the county's pain to taxpayers around the state. For example, Walker suggests several options for "devolving" - or shifting - county responsibilities to others.

One Walker idea would have state employees take over for nearly 300 Circuit Court support staff, who cost a total of about $12 million a year in salary and fringe costs.

Another Walker proposal calls for substitution of state employees for nearly 250 county human services intake workers, who conduct interviews to determine eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid and the Wisconsin Works welfare reform program. They cost about $8.3 million a year.

Walker said taxpayers would come out winners because for every dollar paid to county employees, taxpayers also shell out another 70 cents for health, pension and other fringe costs. The state fringe rate is a much lower 41%.

Consider: private enterprise fringe costs run around 30% or less.

But the most ironic comment came from BagManJimbo's flak:

Walker also hasn't done enough yet to cut county costs to justify extra state support, Leistikow said.

Another bloodsucking concept from Scott:

...a regional parks district

Naturally, the AFSCME has its own opinion of this mess:

Richard Abelson, who leads that union, said Walker has unfairly emphasized the 2000-'01 pension deal as the source of the county's money woes. The county executive's failure to offer health plans to county workers that offer incentives for choosing lower-cost plans has bigger financial implications than pension costs, said Abelson, executive director of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The Walker plan is textbook "default" hard-coded into Milwaukee elected officials. First, you spend a bunch of money--often with full knowledge that you can't afford it. (See MMSD's ridiculous Deep Tunnel, e.g., or the Public Screwels--or the Electric Trolley Toy Bus.)

THEN you wait around a while, so that things become a crisis.

Finally, you go to the Legislature and put the high-heater past them. They're willing; they can't he'p themselves from overspending, either.

Then you bemoan the fact that Wisconsin's State/Local tax burden continues to climb.

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