May 23, 2023
County Executive David Crowley Public Testimony on Senate Bill 301
MILWAUKEE, WI – Today, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley testified in front of the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections, and Consumer Protection on the importance of local revenue reform for Milwaukee County. The following are his remarks delivered to committee:
“Good morning Chairman Knodl, Ranking Member Spreitzer, and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this committee on this important piece of legislation. I want to thank all of you for the robust consideration that you’ve given this bill, because – as I’ve said – this is truly one of the most pivotal pieces of legislation affecting local governments in a generation. I want to personally thank Majority Leader Lemahieu and Senator Felzkowski for their dedication and good-faith efforts in creating a bill that works not just for Milwaukee County, but – most importantly for everyone here today – for counties and municipalities statewide.
“As I am sure you have heard over the past months, local governments across Wisconsin are facing financial challenges that jeopardize the services that our resident rely upon. These challenges are particularly acute in Milwaukee County, where our pension costs currently consume 1/3 of our entire local levy and our structural deficit is anticipated to reach $109 million by 2028.
“Within that same time frame, state-mandated services will also grow to consume our entire local levy. As a result, we would have to make over $100 million in cuts to provide the same level of service that we do now – after already cutting approximately $300 million already in the past decade.
“For context, reductions in roughly $109 million in levy expenditures for Milwaukee County is greater than the levy funding we put into our courts, sheriff, medical examiner, District Attorney, pre-trial services, emergency management, transit, paratransit, and parks combined.
“Milwaukee County has implemented significant reforms, efficiencies, and cost reductions to address our budget crisis. We have reduced our workforce by nearly 4,000 employees since 2000, reduced our physical footprint by 3 million square feet, and redesigned our behavioral health system, but we still face an insurmountable challenge without state partnership to enable Milwaukee County to address our pension crisis and place us on a path of fiscal sustainability.
“I am dedicated to ensuring my residents are safe and healthy, and that Milwaukee County can continue being an economic asset to our region and our state. This historic partnership assists in that critical work.
“I want to again thank everyone for their hard work on this bill – I know some of you have probably seen too much of me up here in the last few months, but it is truly very appreciated. And I know that we will continue having these frank, good faith discussions in the coming days and weeks as we work to structure a package that ensures that Wisconsin’s local governments can remain financially strong and continue serving our residents for generations to come.
“Thank you again for your time, and I am happy to take any questions from the committee.”
Learn more about Milwaukee County’s effort to avoid a devastating fiscal cliff on MoveForwardMKE.com.
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