Statement of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on the Recently Passed State Budget
June 17, 2011
The passage of the state budget and the "budget repair" bill is deeply disappointing. While the Republican legislature touts the budget as "balanced" for the first time in years, it is important to remember that this hollow victory was achieved on the backs of local government, public workers, schools, the middle class, the elderly and disabled.
I strongly support the right of workers to organize. The City of Madison has been blessed with a workforce of devoted and hardworking employees. Our public employee unions have contributed to our ability to attract good employees, and created an atmosphere where they can thrive. Unfortunately, the important role of strong public unions will come to an end in Wisconsin. Eliminating these unions is not a "tool" for us to balance our budget; it is a way for Governor Walker and the Republican legislature to shift the costs of big-business give-aways to others and make local governments do their dirty work.
The rest of the provisions in the budget certainly make no contributions toward strengthening our state. Like so many local governments across the state, Madison is looking at a huge deficit and very few options to fix it. The "party of local control" has kept the money at the state level, forced huge cuts on municipalities, and restricted the ways in which local governments can make up the difference. Pay cuts for our employees and cuts in services do not make our communities strong. Slashing spending on schools and infrastructure does not make this state an attractive place for people to move.
Granted, some of the most egregious budget provisions were removed. For example, the City will not have to pay private contractors hundreds of thousands to make road repairs we could do ourselves, nor will the City have to turn to private companies for internet access at ten times the cost. But, saying "It could have been worse" is cold comfort indeed.
This budget is misguided and short sighted, at best.
- Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611