Gov. Doyle: Governor Doyle Announces Task Force to Examine Milwaukee County Finances

MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle toady announced he has appointed a high-level task force to examine the finances of Milwaukee County.

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the stories coming out of Milwaukee that the county doesn’t seem to be able to pay its bills,” Governor Doyle said.  “Clearly, when our largest, most populous county that is a center of our economy is talking about bankruptcy, it is something our state needs to be focused on.  That’s why I’m appointing a high level task force to look at the financial situation in Milwaukee County. Because a major financial crisis here could have repercussions for our entire state.”

The state of Wisconsin already provides significant support to Milwaukee County. The state pays the full cost of child welfare services only in Milwaukee County and funds a large portion of the cost of the court system, public health and social services, highway patrol and street maintenance, and other county functions.  In fact, Wisconsin sends nearly a half a billion dollars every year to Milwaukee County.  The state provides Milwaukee County with:

      • $88.3 million for the Criminal Justice System
      • $312.9 million for Social Services
      • $58 million for Transportation
      • $37 million for Shared Revenue

“When I hear about pools that aren’t going to be open next year and services that won’t be delivered, I get concerned.  I think taxpayers do too,” Governor Doyle said.  “Milwaukee County is vital to Wisconsin – particularly our economy.  I want to make sure that this county can meet its obligations to its citizens, to its businesses, and to its taxpayers.”

The task force will examine the county’s finances, report back to Governor Doyle on the challenges the county is facing, and make recommendations on how to address them. The Task Force will report back to Governor Doyle by December 1, 2006.  Select findings of the Task Force may serve as the basis for formulating proposals in the Governor’s 2007-09 Executive Budget.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by Department of Revenue Secretary Michael Morgan and Sheldon Lubar, president of Lubar and Company, who will lead a committee of representatives from the county, municipalities within Milwaukee County, businesses, citizens, and social services agencies.

Michael Morgan has a wealth of experience working with the local and county government in Milwaukee.  In his career he has served as the city of Milwaukee’s chief lobbyist, Executive Director of the Fire and Police Commission, and the Commissioner of the Department of City Development (DCD). 

Sheldon Lubar, a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is an accomplished businessman, who heads a successful investment firm, Lubar and Company in Milwaukee.  Sheldon is committed to his community in many ways – not the least of which is through philanthropic endeavors.  He recently gave $10 million in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s school of business. 

Members will include:

    • Wally Morics, City of Milwaukee Comptroller
    • Deborah Blanks, Executive Director of the Social Development Commission
    • Craig Maher, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, UW-Oshkosh
    • Chuck Orenstein, Director of Finance, Winnebago County
    • Rich Abelson, Executive Director, AFSCME Council 48
    • Timothy Sheehy, President, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce      
    • Julia Taylor, President, Greater Milwaukee Committee
    • Kenneth Munson, President and CEO of Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin
    • John Hohenfeldt, Mayor of Cudahy
    • Designee of the County Executive
    • Designee of the County Board Chair

“The task force will inspect the county’s financial records and work with officials in Milwaukee County as well as leaders outside of government to determine what needs to be done,” Governor Doyle said.   “I want the task force to take a very thorough look at this, and give us a complete, thoughtful, and independent picture of what’s going on, how serious the problem is, and what can be done about it.  We are all working toward the same goal – to make sure that Milwaukee County remains a vibrant cultural and economic center for the state of Wisconsin.”

State law provides the state with the ability to inspect the financial records of the county. Wis. Stat. 59.25(3)(d).