Officials object to mandates — State-required programs could cost counties more

2014-03-03T06:40:00Z 2014-03-03T20:03:11Z Officials object to mandates — State-required programs could cost counties moreMARK SCHAAF mark.schaaf@journaltimes.com Journal Times

YORKVILLE — How much should the state be involved — and how much is the state involved — in local government decisions?

Those questions were in focus during a recent meeting of Racine County officials and state legislators, as part of their discussion included a proposal that would keep more 17-year-olds in juvenile detention, as opposed to sending them to a correctional facility.

The move would reportedly cost the county upwards of $2 million. While the policy may be sound, the bill represents an unfunded mandate, one of many hamstringing local governments, County Executive Jim Ladwig said.

Other bills passed during this legislative session show increasing state interference in local government issues, said Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

The highest-profile measures, including eliminating residency requirements for public employees and restricting local wage ordinances, haven’t directly affected Racine County. But Barca said the state set a precedent by passing those measures and warned Racine County officials about their impact.

“Your ability to pass ordinances to control your destiny is in jeopardy,” Barca said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, disagreed. The Legislature has only stepped in when local decisions affected state costs, he said.

The Milwaukee County Board’s living wage ordinance, for example, applied to those working in the state-run Family Care program. A new state law nullifies that.

“It was a darn easy decision to make because every nickel of that increase was paid for by the state of Wisconsin,” Vos said.

Counties and municipalities can still make their own decisions about how much to pay their workers if they are bearing the costs, he said.

Ladwig said he agreed with Vos’ reasoning, though he still expressed concern about other unfunded mandates.

Last year, the county submitted a list of almost 30 state rules it felt were unfunded or under-funded mandates — rules imposed by the state but not matched with state funding, often shifting the cost to local taxpayers.

County Supervisor Q.A. Shakoor II, who also attended the legislative breakfast last week, noted tax levy caps put in place hurt the county’s ability to generate more revenue.

“I find that as something that would be nice to be revisited,” Shakoor said. “I’m all for keeping the taxes lower and things like that, but I think ... the local officials have a better idea of what their community needs.”

The juvenile-detention bill has stalled as officials continue to mull funding options, said state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, a supporter of the legislation. But he said the focus should be first on the policy.

“I fall on the side of making sure that we don’t make wrong decisions with these children or reduce their options,” Lehman said.

But reflecting the local view, Ladwig said it should not be an either-or proposition — the funding and policy should be discussed at the same time.

“It would be a significant burden to our taxpayers as a result of this initiative,” Ladwig said, “if it is not adequately funded.”

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - March 03, 2014 10:04 am
    Vos is typical, he says he is for smaller government, but he does not walk to walk. All talk.
  2. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - March 03, 2014 10:01 am
    Vos, Walker, all say they are for smaller government, but they take away local control any chance they get. Nice.
  3. tansandy
    Report Abuse
    tansandy - March 03, 2014 8:11 am
    First is Barca just as upset with all the mandates that he helped pass when the Democrats ran rough shod over Madison under Diamond Jim Doyle? If I'm not mistaken, wasn't it the coward draft dodger Lehman that said to the Republicans, "either you're with us or get out of the way"? And as far as the Milwaukee County Board’s living wage ordinance, lets tell the whole truth on that one. The law was written by a the employee union and given to the board to pass. And did you know that in this living wage agreement, that if your company signs up in the union, your company will be exempt from paying the living wage. Wink Wink. I guess union members don't deserve the wage. What a load of cow dung! So we do need the state to intervene on corruption like this.
  4. 2brnt2b
    Report Abuse
    2brnt2b - March 03, 2014 7:58 am
    he's making YOU eat it.
  5. americanwarrior
    Report Abuse
    americanwarrior - March 03, 2014 7:47 am
    LOL, just like having to deal with lib school boards and their idiot taxing decision or obamacare..EAT it Ladwig.
  6. 2brnt2b
    Report Abuse
    2brnt2b - March 03, 2014 7:46 am
    "It was a darn easy decision to make because every nickel of that increase was paid for by the state of Wisconsin,” Vos said."

    Oh? Are You the state now? This is YOUR money? How stupid are you? I PAY STATE TAXES AND I AM PART OF THE STATE AND YOUR OWNERS PAY NOTHING!
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Featured Racine-area Businesses

Fountain Hills - Mount Pleasant, WI

Enjoy independent living in a high quality community setting and meet new friends. Great recreation and ent…

Stummer Dental

Stummer Dental

Business Offer

Durand Automotive Center - Racine, WI

Durand Automotive Center - Racine, WI

Durand Automotive Center is a complete Automotive and Fleet Repair Center. We do it all ~ ma…

Business Offer

Beech Pointe Senior Apartments - Kenosha, WI

Beech Pointe Senior Apartments - Kenosha, WI

Beech Pointe Senior Apartments provide independent living for active adults 55 and older. Be…

Business Offer

Poll

See more polls
Loading…

Should the Racine Unified board to be made up of members elected from nine boundaries within the district, as opposed to the at-large system currently in place?

View Results