Alderman likes what he hears fromGovernor-elect Tony Evers during his address to Common Council
Milwaukee Alderman Cavalier (Chevy) Johnson said it was refreshing to hear Governor-elect Tony Evers express a desire to be a partner, not an enemy, of the city of Milwaukee.
Johnson made his remarks recently after hearing Evers address the full council at city hall during an address to that governing body.
Evers reportedly told the council that in order to have a strong Wisconsin, there needs to be a strong Milwaukee. The governor-elect signaled support for finding new ways for the Milwaukee region to fund many of its pressing needs.
“We have to find flexibility for the citizens and decision makers in the Milwaukee area to have revenue streams that meet their needs,” Evers reportedly said. Among the ideas Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and city officials have floated the last several years has been a sales tax (to fund public safety efforts), which requires state approval; or a regional sales tax which would help fund cultural or transportation needs.
Evers’ visit to city hall to speak to the common council was his first, which is one more than the total visits by out-going governor Scott Walker, which is zero. That fact is emblematic of the strained relationship between the city and state ever since Walker and Republican legislators took control of both branches of state government.
Recent state budgets slashed already frozen state shared revenue payments to the city, leaving the city with a reported $105 million annual shortfall versus 2003 shared revenue payments.
Johnson was alarmed to hear Evers note the 160 bills limiting local control passed in the last eight years during Walker’s and GOP lawmakers’ control of the statehouse. It’s especially troubling, the alderman said, when a number of those bills—and what’s been slipped into the state budget process—greatly impacted. if not directly targeted, Milwaukee.
Johnson said he was happy to learn Evers will seek to focus on issues important to Milwaukee like early childhood education, improving healthcare accessibility, laying the groundwork for additional multimodal transit, and reform in the Department of Corrections.
“I was also excited to hear that the governor-elect understands that as a big city, Milwaukee’s needs are unique and that this city should have flexibility as it relates to raising revenue that does not rely so heavily on property taxpayers.”
But before initiatives can be enacted to make fiscal life easier for Milwaukee and ease the tension between it and the state legislature, Evers must first contend with state Republican efforts to curtail his gubernatorial powers. The outgoing governor is expected to sign legislation passed last week in a lame-duck legislative session that limits Evers power and the power of State Attorney- General-elect Josh Kaul in several major segments of state government.
Evers said last week the sweeping changes are an effort to not only expand the power of the GOP-controlled assembly and senate, but is a repudiation of the will of the people of Wisconsin who voted for change on November 6.—Article compiled by MCJ Editorial Staff