Local governments in Milwaukee County are challenged to provide services because of a lack of revenue. Annual budget gaps grow each year due to revenue limits and communities are faced with increasingly difficult decisions about what to fund and where to cut. As budget cuts grow larger by the year, the public services that many members of our Milwaukee community depend on are increasingly at risk. Local governments have had to put off maintenance of public facilities and important investments in public infrastructure. Our parks and popular cultural venues are in disrepair.
After discussions between the Move Forward MKE coalition and leadership in both houses of the legislature, we are encouraged to share an important update to our lobbying effort. As part of a legislative package that would include increased shared revenue for municipalities and counties throughout the state, new legislation introduced on May 2, 2023 would authorize the City of Milwaukee to impose an additional 2 percent sales tax and Milwaukee County to impose an additional 0.375 percent sales tax, the revenue from which would first and foremost pay the unfunded actuarial accrued liability of the City and County retirement systems and increase public safety services, freeing up resources for other quality of life services.
This announcement represents one of the first formal steps taken to address local revenue reform in nearly a generation and we are thankful to our representatives, senators and the Governor for this significant progress.
There is more work to be done in this process, but after years of politics we have reached an actionable step forward in making government work for the people it serves and securing the future of local government in Milwaukee and the economic future of our entire region.
It cannot be overstated how historic this moment is. Having legislation to hone in partnership with the Assembly, Senate, and Governor’s office is a major step forward in our efforts to ensure the fiscal health of the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.
Move Forward MKE supports giving the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County the authority to implement a local option sales tax to address fiscal crises and preserve critical services and assets that will enable our region to attract the businesses and people to be a globally competitive metro region that helps drive the state economy forward.