Sunday, July 6, 2008

Walker Paints Himself Into A Corner

Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive, wants to be the next governor of Wisconsin. He's wanted this for six years. That is why he ran for County Executive in the first place. He thought it would be a stepping stone for his gubernatorial candidacy. This was in spite of the fact that most of outstate Wisconsin looks down on Milwaukee as being a parasite on the rest of the state.

He started his gubernatorial run immediately, by backtracking on most, if not all of his promises. The only thing he was concerned with was his one-plank platform of a tax freeze (which technically he failed to keep for all of his budgets, but that's old news).

Six years of this, and Milwaukee County has been reeling with the effects of his lack of attention to the job he was elected for while he focused on the job he longed for. The parks are in disarray. The Courthouse is in disrepair. The HOC is just one disaster after another, going from escaped inmates to scapegoating officers for inmates that didn't escape to sexual harassment lawsuits. The paper did a year long expose on the squalid conditions Walker forced the mentally ill to live in, all for the purpose of his tax freeze.

The most telling is probably the transit system. It is all but in its death throes and unless some serious inflow of income occurs, it will be for all practical purposes useless within a few years. And it is not just liberal bloggers saying this. It is people like Rob Henken, who worked for the county for years, and knows the financial workings of the county probably better than Walker does. Even a conservative transit consultant says a sales tax should be seriously considered. It's been said that without some sort of resurrection of the transit system now, the economy of Milwaukee County could become even worse than most people could imagine.

But Walker still has his eyes on the prize, and will not, can not give up his one-plank platform.
He even said so in this morning's paper, in a letter to the editor:
Holding the line on taxes

When I ran for Milwaukee County executive this spring, I told voters I oppose a sales tax increase. Is it any surprise then that I will veto the sales tax referendum proposed by the County Board?

Considering the state of the economy, now is the worst time to approve a $130 million tax increase. Every day, I hear from people who are worried about their jobs, upset about gas prices and frustrated with high grocery bills. Adding to their financial burden is not the answer.Supporters of the $130 million sales tax increase will argue that the measure provides property tax relief, but lawyers for the county note that nothing in the referendum question can legally guarantee property tax relief.

In fact, history shows just the opposite to be true. In 1991, the County Board passed a 0.5% sales tax increase for the purpose of "property tax relief." From 1992 to 2002, the tax levy went up 55%.

We have better solutions to tackle our financial challenges that do not involve tax increases. Our agenda includes ways to add more hours of labor to protect our parks and ways to improve and upgrade our transit system - all without raising taxes.

Scott Walker
Milwaukee County Executive

Which does Walker really think would hurt his gubernatorial chances more? Giving citizens a chance to vote for property tax relief while restoring the transit system to its once stellar, world-class level, or to be the leader of a county that went from the state's strongest and best economic engine to among the lowest levels in the nation?

Apparently, judging from his letter, he is picking the former as the biggest threat. Jay Bullock had it correct. Walker sure is dumb.

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