The Recombobulation Area
The Recombobulation Area
PODCAST: Milwaukee's 'mindblowing' budget turnaround

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PODCAST: Milwaukee's 'mindblowing' budget turnaround

With Rob Henken of the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The Recombobulation Area is a ten-time Milwaukee Press Club award-winning weekly opinion column and online publication written, edited and published by longtime Milwaukee journalist Dan Shafer. Learn more about it here.

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Figure from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, showing Milwaukee County’s first budget surplus after years of deficits.

Fall in Milwaukee means it’s budget season for the City and County. In many recent years, this has been a contentious process and often a rather bleak one, as new budgets have often meant cuts to key services, looming fiscal cliffs and the threat of outright disaster. 

But that wasn’t the case this year. For the city, there are no notable cuts for the first time in more than a decade, and even a few new increases in key areas. For the county, they have a budget surplus, are making new investments, and will be cutting property taxes for the first time in more than 30 years. The downstream effect of the state government's long overdue action on local funding means Milwaukee's finances are in their best shape in decades.

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If you’ve followed Milwaukee’s budgets over the years, this is pretty remarkable. So to dig into the weeds on what’s happening here, we are joined for a podcast by Rob Henken, the king of nonpartisan public policy analysis, who has been breaking down budgets in Milwaukee for decades.  

“I and the Forum are not really much into hyperbole,” said Henken. “But, you know, ‘mindblowing’ is a word that comes to mind here. Just such a complete about face.”

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