This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The role of Milwaukee County government

It’s local budget time, and I have commended Scott Walker for doing what apparently no other local official wants to or can do: propose a budget without tax increases.

Evidently, folks in these parts have forgotten two critical pieces of local history:

1) Milwaukee County is suffering from the outlandish, diabolical pension scheme perpetrated by former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament and other Milwaukee County elected officials.

2) Current Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker was swept into office on a tidal-wave of voter demand for fiscal responsibility. It is his job to fix the ridiculous mess he inherited.

All the while, some people want swimming pools, tennis courts, busses that go everywhere all the time (even if they’re empty), park grass sans weeds, service after service after service, program after program after program.

Guess what…..we might have the money for all these wonderful things except that it’s going to pay for your neighbor’s pension. You know who I’m talking about: the guy who couldn’t wait to retire as soon as possible when the Ament scandal broke.

Milwaukee County must and should provide courts and sheriff’s deputies and the airport. But a legitimate question is whether Milwaukee County should be in the business of running parks, and making sure you have a place to swim, or play golf.  Is that really its role? 

Don’t get me wrong. Quality of life is essential to a community. But you can’t live on a caviar and champagne diet when you can only afford Miller Lite and chicken.

A few years ago, former Milwaukee County Executive and Parks Director Dave Schulz wrote a fascinating and compelling piece on how to reinvent Milwaukee County government.

He had earlier proposed getting rid of county government altogether. Schulz even suggested the merging of suburbs. For example, Franklin would consolidate with Greendale and Greenfield.

It’s an interesting read even five years later. While I’m not endorsing all of his suggestions, they pose a significant question as to what the role of Milwaukee County government should really be.

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