After inheriting Scott Walker’s fiscal mess nearly five years ago, Milwaukee County is turning the corner under County Executive Chris Abele’s leadership. In 2010, the year before Chris took office, the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum examined Milwaukee County’s fiscal trend. The findings were so dire they questioned whether county government should even exist. Thanks for the tough decisions and hard work by Chris and his team, the county deficit was $71 million less than projected by 2014.
Now, the County has rebuilt a solid foundation and is using that to set the goal to be the most empowering, responsive and nimble unit of government anywhere. Leveraging our resources to solve the problems that have plagued our community for generations. The Public Policy Forum also recognizes this monumental shift, noting that Milwaukee County Executive’s 2016 budget “reflects the County’s remarkable progress in reducing health care expenditures and debt service obligations – two of the primary drivers of its long-term structural imbalance – by accommodating an unanticipated spike in its pension contribution with few service reductions and a flat property tax levy, while also providing a pay increase for employees. Such a scenario would have been unthinkable five years ago.”
Thanks to Chris Abele’s leadership, Milwaukee County achieved a bond credit rating upgrade from Fitch Ratings, the first upgrade the County has received in years. Today, the County spends less on debt interest payments and allocates more resources toward progressive priorities, such as parks, transit, mental health care, and other social services – all without a proposed tax increase in five straight budgets.
Because of these changes, In 2016, county workers will receive one of the largest pay increases in the state since the passage of ACT 10, have their health care premiums held flat, and have access to a tuition reimbursement program.