Assembly Debates Shifting Power From Milw. County Board To Executive


The Wisconsin Assembly is debating a bill this afternoon that would shrink the size and power of the Milwaukee County Board and could shrink supervisors’ pay.

The measure being pushed almost exclusively by Republicans would give the Milwaukee County Executive more power to run county government. Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis), a former Milwaukee County supervisor, said at a news conference that it would create a more efficient government.

“County department heads are going to find it much easier to run their departments because they’re going to take direction from one person instead of 19. Citizens will no longer be spending an extra $4 million running a county board that they don’t need to run right now, and that money is going to be spent on more services in the community.”

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But debate today so far in the Assembly has been dominated by Democratic lawmakers from Milwaukee who have framed this plan as a hostile takeover by state government. Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said it flew in the face of local control, which used to be one of the tenets of conservatism: “What this bill reminds me of is a degree of hypocrisy. This isn’t a conservative bill. This is a radical bill.”

The bill would also set up a referendum next spring where voters would be asked if they want to cut supervisor pay by roughly half, to about $24,000 a year. Kessler noted that supervisors represent nearly the same number of people as state lawmakers, asking supporters why it was OK to cut supervisor pay while legislative pay is untouched.