The Milwaukee County Board overrode Gov.-elect Scott Walker’s attempts to cut over $7 million from the county’s budget Wednesday, another instance in Walker’s history of budget vetoes being overridden by the board.
The board voted 13-6 to override 11 of Walker’s 15 budget vetoes, reinstating $7.4 million to the county’s budget.
Some of Walker’s vetoes would have cut benefits and proposed wage increases to county employees. Other Walker vetoes to the 2011 county budget would have cut funding to education, agriculture and a local swimming pool.
One of Walker’s largest goals for the 2011 budget, a million-dollar decrease in the property tax levy, also failed.
During his address on the 2011 budget in September, Walker originally touted his success in cutting spending while maintaining high levels of service for county residents.
However, Walker has faced repeated resistance over budget cuts in Milwaukee County during his tenure as executive.
According to Marina Dimitrijevic, Milwaukee County Board supervisor, District 4, Walker has had trouble getting concessions from political foes as executive.
“In the seven years I’ve been on the board, we’ve overridden 50 to 70 percent of his vetoes,” Dimitrijevic said.
She said the playing field in Madison will be different, however, following sweeping Republican victories in the general election.
Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Lynne De Bruin, District 15, voted to uphold Walker’s vetoes because she questioned the legality of board amendments in the original budget.
Walker’s cuts would have lowered the property tax levy, De Bruin said, which she thinks is necessary during a jobless recovery period. She thinks he will face less resistance with the state budget in the Legislature.
“He will find more agreement in a state Assembly and Senate that has also become Republican,” De Bruin said. “The majority of the county board is more liberal than Walker.”
According to De Bruin, after Walker resigns in late December, it will be easier to reach agreements with unions.
“Major unions did not like him or trust him,” De Bruin said.
Walker also vetoed the spending of federal economic stimulus money for county projects in Milwaukee County in 2009, which the board also overrode.
Harold Mester, Public Information Manager for the Milwaukee County Board, said the current 2011 budget is more realistic without Walker’s vetoes.
Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway, District 5, will replace Walker as county executive in the interim before Holloway names a successor within a month.
However, Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said Walker vetoes budgets knowing the vetoes will be shot down so he can appease his conservative base with little political risk.
“The fact that the county board overrode Walker’s draconian cuts is not new,” Ross said. “It happens every year. Now he and the right-wing Legislature will own the budgets.”
Walker has pledged to cut spending to balance the budget, but according to Ross, he will also have to break campaign promises to avoid crippling social programs and state employee benefits.
The $7.4 million will be restored to the original Milwaukee County 2011 budget that was proposed at about $1.3 billion.
Walker’s transition office could not be reached for comment.