The news that Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has lost track of $56.2 million in taxpayer-funded loans is disturbing, but for anyone who’s paid attention to Scott Walker’s history of failures, incompetence and mismanagement, it’s certainly not shocking.
Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County Executive was marked by his incompetence and ineffectiveness as a manager, leading to soaring budget deficits, draconian cuts to social services and crumbling infrastructure.
As Wisconsinites learn more about the John Doe criminal corruption probe that has netted the convictions of five top aides and advisers to Scott Walker for running the County Executive’s office as an adjunct of Walker’s campaign, it’s clear that managing Milwaukee County was of little importance to Walker – his first, if not only, priority was the advancement of his political career.
Scott Walker Failed to Manage his Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex
Walker's privatization of jobs and overall mismanagement of the Mental Health Complex was marked by multiple reports of patient deaths, the sexual assault of mentally handicapped patients and the findings of a federal investigation, which Walker suppressed during his campaign for governor, that the county failed to manage the complex and protect patients.
Scott Walker Failed to Provide Real Security at the Milwaukee County Courthouse
Walker also saw a series of failures in his attempt to outsource security at the Milwaukee County Courthouse as a fix for an alleged budgetary emergency. In addition to putting a sex criminal in charge of security at the courthouse, Walker's sell-off of county services ultimately cost Milwaukee County money when an arbitrator ruled that Walker had overstepped his authority, there existed no budget crisis to justify laying off 26 county workers in favor of a contract with the ethically-challenged Wackenhut private security firm, and that Walker had significantly overstated the proposed annual savings.
Scott Walker Failed to Manage Milwaukee County's Public Assistance Programs
As Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker was tasked to administer food aid, childcare assistance and medical care programs designed to help the needy, some of the very programs he now seeks to privatize as Governor. However, in an unprecedented move following years of Scott Walker's failure to provide adequate services, the state was forced to take over Milwaukee County's public assistance program. Walker's mismanagement, under-funding and ineptitude, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours in resources from the state, led to thousands deserving applicants being denied assistance for food and health care for weeks or months, if they received help at all.
As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
- The county's poor performance in the programs includes answering only 5% of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month.
- The county fails to process 30% of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care.
- In 2007, 60% of county decisions to deny food or health care benefits were overturned within two months. That resulted in benefit delays and forced families to go through time-consuming appeals or a second round of applications.
- The county's high food assistance error rate means nearly one in five deserving applicants were cut off from the program in fiscal year 2008.
Scott Walker Failed to Manage Milwaukee County Transit System
Walker's gross mismanagement of Milwaukee County's transit system ultimately required federal stimulus funds to address massive fiscal problems. ['Milwaukee County bus system to get one-third of stimulus transportation funds,' River Falls Journal, 3/9/2009]
Because of Walker's failure to control transit costs, Milwaukee County residents were forced to shoulder huge fee hikes, reduced routes and fewer services, all while faced with fare increases, including fares for seniors, students and the disabled, with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noting in 2010 that, 'County officials have cut service, raised fares or both every year for 10 straight years.' ['County transit ridership falls 9%,' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/7/2010]
Scott Walker Failed to Manage Milwaukee County's Finances, Leaving it on the Verge of Bankruptcy
Eight years of Walker's feckless money mismanagement left Milwaukee County on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a report by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, with the structural deficit expected to climb to nearly $100 million by 2014. Walker's historic soaring budget deficits and his series of short term fixes passed the buck to future generations and amounted to nothing more than putting a band-aid over a bullet wound. ['County finances on, report says,' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/9/2010] [2011 Milwaukee County Budget Preview, Public Policy Forum, July 2010]
Walker also sought to use the outsourcing of county jobs as a panacea for his soaring structural deficits and budget woes. When his policy of kicking the can down the road failed, he simply tried to sell off county services rather than address fiscal problems. In addition to his attempts privatize the successful Milwaukee County Zoo, Walker has attempted the sell off of Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport on multiple occasions, yet touts its growth as his success.
Scott Walker's Failed Budget 'Solutions'
Many of Walker's 'solutions' to budget problems have actually cost the county and state money in legal fees and corrective actions.
- Scott Walker slashed custodial jobs at the courthouse, resulting in cockroach infestation.
- Scott Walker implemented a 35 hour workweek for county employees, which the Wisconsin Court of Appeals declared an overstep of his authority.
Scott Walker Mismanaged Economic Development
Walker has a long track record of failure and mismanagement when it comes to promoting and stimulating economic growth, losing more than 30,000 Milwaukee County jobs in 2009 alone according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether deriding the efforts of the M7 to foster economic development in Southeastern Wisconsin as akin to putting “lipstick on a pig,” eliminating the county’s Economic & Community Development department in the midst of the 2008 economic collapse, after years of de-funding, proposing the county’s share of federal stimulus money to be used to provide a sales tax holiday, or using a one-time gift of $2 million meant to create an economic development trust fund to offset his budget deficit, Walker consistently proved incapable of understanding the economic challenges facing Milwaukee County and unable or unwilling to offer solutions of his own.