K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Freeze property taxes Local governments must consider cuts and furloughs too

Dave Cieslewicz:

There have been no cuts, furloughs or reduced hours for municipal workers in the City-County Building or anywhere else in city government yet.

It’s time for local governments in Dane County to make some cuts in response to the economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus epidemic. And, unfortunately, to be meaningful they’ll also have to be somewhat painful. 

Thousands of small business owners and their workers have been without income or suffering drastic reductions in their pay for the last month or more. One in three Wisconsin small businesses may never reopen their doors. Big businesses are hurting too. Madison’s Exact Sciences recently announced $400 million in pay and benefit cuts, including voluntary and involuntary furloughs and reductions to executive pay and director compensation. 

You might think that in the midst of a pandemic the last people to get hit with pay cuts would be health care workers. You would be wrong. UW Health and UnityPoint, which owns Meriter Hospital, recently announced 15% pay cuts for doctors and 20% cuts for senior administrators plus unpaid furloughs for other workers. SSM Health, which owns St. Mary’s and Dean Health clinics and facilities in three other states, just announced that it would furlough about 5% of its workers. 

Other state and local governments are acting as well. The city of Los Angeles is planning to impose 26 unpaid days of leave on its workers while Detroit has laid off 200 and furloughed others. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and a short list candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate, has furloughed 6% of the state’s workforce. 

And just Wednesday, as this blog was being finalized, Gov. Tony Evers’ administration announced a 5% cut in state spending, though no specifics are available yet. 

Yet, despite all that, the city of Madison, Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District have not cut, furloughed or reduced hours for their employees. It’s just not plausible that cuts aren’t possible and not acting will create a growing credibility problem for these institutions. It’s time for local leaders to make some really hard choices.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

David Blaska:

Cieslewicz gets the resentment felt by the Safer at Home protesters. 

  • Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is estimated to be 27% due to closures and social distancing orders aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

  • National GDP dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, which only caught the first weeks of the national shutdown.

  • “One in three Wisconsin small businesses may never reopentheir doors,” Cieslewicz writes. Yet … yet … yet

Meet Two Small Business Owners Fighting to Open Wisconsin

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.