By Kevin Binversie | Wisconsin Reporter
You’d think Milwaukee officials would be preoccupied with jobs and the economy or trying to balance their budget, but you’d be wrong.
On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Supervisor Theo Lipscomb Sr. suggested hitting residents with a $20 car tax to raise $19 million over five years for mass transit. That would be $20 on top of the $20 “wheel tax” Milwaukee county residents have been paying since 2008.
On Thursday, a Milwaukee County judiciary panel led by John Weishan Jr. agreed to spend roughly $19,000 on a nonbinding referendum to determine whether the states should pass a constitutional amendment that unwinds the 2010 Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court case. That case broadly determined that corporations have the same speech rights as individuals where political campaigns are concerned.
The referendum would ask Milwaukeeans to consider that “only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights” and that “money is not speech and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.”
These two events give us a perfect illustration of the mindset of many Milwaukee County officials. One day, they come before the public to raise taxes. The very next day, they submit a proposal, which advances the personal political agenda of those officials and wastes taxpayer money.
This is likely just a hint at what these officials think about full time.
These proposals — two in one week — show there’s no real desire in Milwaukee County government to control spending. Perhaps the next time a supervisor goes public and tries to raise taxes to cover a funding gap, he ought to make sure no one else in the county is trying to use county funds to further a purely political agenda.
Call it better public relations.
It might make the annual “Woe is us!” talk whenever a new budget is debated just a little more believable.
Veteran political blogger Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native. He served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous state Republican campaigns, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.