Wisconsin Democrats look to undo shared revenue limits with local control legislation

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(The Center Square) – Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol are pushing ahead with a series of proposals they say will fix the problems with the state’s new shared revenue agreement.

A handful of Democratic lawmakers Thursday introduced 15 pieces of legislation they say will restore local control to communities across the state.

“I probably serve three cities, three villages, 15 townships and 13 school districts and they all don’t have the same views, they all don’t have the same values, they all have different problems and unfortunately this legislature keeps giving them cookie cutter policies and provides no flexibility,” Rep. Clinton Anderson. D-Beloit, told reporters.

Anderson and the other Democrats have 14 different proposals that would undo the limits imposed on local governments in the shared revenue agreement that was part of Wisconsin’s new state budget.

That agreement sent more state sales money to cities, towns, villages and counties. It also allowed Milwaukee to create a new sales tax and allowed Milwaukee County to raise its sales tax.

But the shared revenue agreement imposed spending restrictions on those local governments – particularly Milwaukee.

“[Share revenue] provided us a few more scraps of Milwaukee’s own revenue back to us and allowed us to tax our residents in every regressive way, but also carried with it some onerous attacks on the ability for Milwaukee to govern itself,” Rep. Ryan Clancy, D-Milwaukee, said. “Including the disemboweling of Milwaukee’s firing police commission, which was charged with providing accountability and oversight to law enforcement. The mandating of police in Milwaukee Public Schools. The banning the use of public funds for the streetcar. A mandate for constantly increasing our police force and the budget for it, and much, much more.”

Clancy said the legislature needs to roll those requirements back and allow local governments to make their own spending decision.

“These harmful policies are not based in data that say that they will improve the lives of anybody. They’re certainly not based on the will of our residents,” Clancy said. “These policies are based in the clearly racist and colonialist concept of ungovernable people. It is deeply shameful legislation.”

Among the Democratic proposals are plans to lift the shared revenue spending restrictions in Milwaukee, restore the power of local public health departments to close businesses during outbreaks, allow local governments to ban gas powered cars and trucks, send more money to local schools to deal with what the Democrats call unfunded mandates and allow cities to set rent control rules and invest more in affordable housing.

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