Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Shared revenue bill has big (small-town) winners, but WisGOPs can't help but try to handcuff MKE

Earlier today, we were told that the Republicans in the State Legislature were still figuring out their bill that would increase shared revenues to communities throughout Wisconsin, while also putting conditions on those extra funds. Now today, we find out that Robbin' Vos and the rest of the Assembly Republicans have not only decided on a bill, but that they want to slam it through quickly, without giving most of us/them time to think about it.

Fortunately, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released an estimate of how much more money every municipality and county in the state would get under the GOP’s potential bill. And Shafer knows people who can break down those numbers quickly and ID the patterns, winners and losers, which Marquette Professor Phillip Rocco has done at Shafer's Recombobulation Area website.
Given this extreme policy drift in County and Municipal Aid, the question is how do local governments fare under the new supplemental aid payments when compared to the current shared revenue payments they are receiving from the state? While all local governments receive at least a 10%increase in aid, a quick look at the data suggests that gains from the new supplemental aid payments would not be equally distributed across the state. On the one hand, more than a dozen municipalities would see increases in aid of over 1,000%. The town of Popple River, in Forest County, would see an increase in aid that exceeds 5,000%. Popple River has a population of 43. To put this in terms of the actual dollar amounts, today, it receives $14.09 in municipal aid per capita. Under the new arrangement, it would receive $729 per capita

And that's the trend you see all over this bill. Small, property-rich communities are the ones who will get (by far) the largest percentage increase in shared revenue under the GOP's plan.

Now, some of this fixes a flaw in the system where high property value areas were getting screwed over because they lacked shared revenues with the idea that their high property tax base could make up the difference. But because Republicans have put severe limitations on raising property taxes for the last dozen years, those communities can't take advantage of that tax base to add resources to pay for services that keep going up in cost.

But it's also odd to see higher-income big-population counties like Dane and Waukesha get so much more of a % boost in aids than other large-population Wisconsin counties, and how lower-income Milwaukee County gets a relatively tepid increase in aids compared to other larger-population counties.

Biggest increases in county aid by dollars
Milwaukee Co. +6,874,868 (+14.6%)
Dane County +$4,006,349 (+254.0%)
Waukesha Co +$3,246,103 (+510.0%)
Brown County +$1,899,918 (+71.7%)
Winnebago Co +$1,642,785 (+75.3%)
Racine County +$1,329.400 (+56.6%)
Outagamie Co. +$1,328,544 (+87.5%)
Walworth County +$1,228,584 (+1,226.4%)

On a percentage increase, not even Waukesha County can keep up with the boost in aids that is coming to lower-populated counties that have a lot of tourism and vacation/retirement homes.

Biggest increases in county aid by percentage
Adams County +1,918.8%
Vilas County 1,620.4%
Door County +1,346.7%
Walworth Co. +1,226.4%
Sawyer County +1,140.4%
Oneida County +1,034.4%
Burnett County +1,014.7%
Waushara County +669.5%

Best of both worlds for all the FIB tax exiles residents of Walworth County, eh?

That in itself needs fixing, but worse is the many ways that Vos and the rest of the WisGOPs use this bill to impose even more rules on local governments than what already exists today. Here's one of the most ridiculous ones.

So the WisGOPs could cut shared revenues by 15% to communities if they cut cops or fire fighters, and not have a drop in tickets or arrests. What kind of pathetic, potentially abusive scheme is that? I thought Republicans used to be about efficiency in government and cost-effective measures. Not here, but nice attempted giveaway to the cop unions, GOPpers.

I'm thinking that one won't fly, and there's a lot more of this type of petty BS in this bill. Here's one that tries to keep Wisconsinites from being able to speak their voice on issues, in a state that already doesn't allow for citizens turn referenda into law from the ground-up.

Of course, the gerrymandered GOP Legislature can still put race-baiting, out-of-context BS like "work requirements for Medicaid" on the ballot. But don't you dare do so at the county or local level and remind the citizens what the gerrymandered Legislature ISN'T doing.

There are also a number of Milwaukee-specific measures that go beyond forcing any new sales tax revenue to go to pensions. Both the City and the County have these two requirements tied to their extra funds.
1. The total amount of spending for cultural or entertainment matters or involving partnerships with nonprofit groups is limited to not more than 5 percent of the total city budget.

2. Net new program spending or position authorizations may occur only upon a two-thirds vote of all of the members of the common council.
Why? And why only them?

There also are several other handcuffs put on the City's operations and spending.
3. The city may not use moneys raised by levying taxes for funding any position for which the principal duties consist of promoting individuals on the basis of their race, color, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation. (I'll remind you that Milwaukee is majority-minority).

4. The city may not use moneys raised by levying taxes for developing, operating, or maintaining a rail fixed guideway transportation system (street car).

5. The city must maintain the level of law enforcement and fire department staffing at at least the current level.

6. The school board of the school district that is located in the first class city must ensure that 25 school resource officers are present at schools in the school district during school hours and that a reasonable number are present during other school-related activities, and that, beginning in the 2025-26 school year, the school board must consider the statistics required to be collected on violations of municipal disorderly conduct ordinances and certain crimes, as further described below, to allocate the school resource officers to specific schools in the school district.
On the last one - explain to me how Milwaukee Public Schools is even part of this discussion? There are no extra revenues going to MPS to pay for those school resource officers in this bill, nor is there help in tracking the statistics mentioned. GOPs used to be the party of "no unfunded mandates", but if they get a chance to screw with THOSE PEOPLE, they can't come up with enough petty BS rules to impose.

I get that any boost in shared revenue helps when you have a situation where Wisconsin's system is so outdated and failing to meet needs. But Robbin' Vos and the rest of the GOP dimwits are so drunk on power that they can't do a simple bill to solve that problem, and instead are tweaking the formula divert resources in a way their rural and exurban constituents get the biggest benefits (although Dane County makes out pretty damn well under this, which is hilarious).

It's especially weak of them to use this bill as a challenge to see just how much power and pain they can inflict onto "out groups", especially when they get to use the power of the pocketbook to try to whip the largest City in the state. I know beggars can't be choosers, but as this over-larded bill stands today, I'd tell Milwaukee officials to tell the WisGOPs to shove it, and have the GOP figure out their own policing for the 2024 RNC. The funds for this bill don't come to communities until their 2025 budgets, anyway.

There are a lot of ways and methods to fix and improve this bill, as well as take out a lot of the petty fat, but I can't think it would hurt if Governor Evers and other Dems step up and ask "WHY THE F IS THIS STUPID CRAP IN THE BILL?" at tomorrow's meeting, as well as throughout the debate at the Capitol that will happen in the next several weeks for this important issue.

1 comment:

  1. Sure enough, Governor Evers is now saying he would veto the GOP's Shared Revenue bill as it stands today.

    He's saying it's because of it doesn't give enough to cities and larger counties, but he also mentioned the strings attached to the funding. And I'd recommend that the Gov focus on the conditions that WisGOPs put on those funds, and the general pointlessness of a lot of it (and flat-out giveaways to GOP-supporting police and cop unions).

    I've caught a bit of the hearing so far, and the GOP reps can't even give a good reason for all the BS they threw in the bill. This thing clearly needs a lot of improvement.