Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk issued the following statement regarding statements and charts released by the Governor’s office today regarding purported “savings” to local governments by Governor Walker’s proposed budget:
“We have several grounds of disagreement with Governor Walker’s statements today.
First, his chart is based on the false assumption that every local leader agrees the state budget should be balanced on the backs of those who teach our kids and protect public safety like our snow plow drivers and 911 dispatchers.
He could have: a) bargained with workers to achieve savings (which the unions said publicly they agreed to), b) not given $140-million to corporations in January, or c) created other sources of revenue.
In contrast, in Dane County, we work with our employees ($9-million worth of concessions, achieved through collective bargaining in the past three years). It also should be noted Dane County isn’t part of the state health plan, already pays less than the state for its health plan, and we got $1-million in health care concessions from employees through our most recent round of bargaining.
Second, through his zeal to take workers’ rights away, the Governor has stolen tools that local governments use to save money. Before this new law, the county had many options on the table to bargain - - step increases, overtime pay, furloughs, health care costs, layoffs, etc. The bill legally precludes local governments from bargaining on those items. Collective bargaining is about a whole lot more than wages, health care, and retirement.
The Governor’s chart is inaccurate and incomplete. It fails to include the nearly $2-million raid on county funds that he proposes for the state to take over and run an ineffective program for the important work of helping vulnerable moms and dads get food stamps and medicine for their kids. The total cut to income maintenance alone is $6.3 million to Dane County.
The chart inaccurately omits a number of other state cuts to Dane County - - including an $840,000 annual reduction to Dane County for child support work. Cuts to the Dane County court system, Planning Department, Alliant Energy Center, and Land and Water Conservation add up to another $300,000 a year.
In Dane County, we’ve shown there’s a different way. We’ve used all the tools to balance budgets. We’ve worked with workers, we’ve generated new sources of revenue (Dane County makes $3-million a year for taxpayers by converting methane to electricity at the landfill), achieved millions of dollars in efficiencies through our criminal justice reforms all while holding the line on property taxes (average increase of about $12 per year over the past 14 years).”