Friday, September 30th, 2016

Is it ketchup or tartar sauce with a hat?


Just about everybody is laughing at Mark Neumann’s statement that, if anybody can prove he was wrong about Scott Walker spending more than Jim Doyle, Neumann will literally eat his hat.  It didn’t take long for someone to step forward with the evidence.  Former Department of Administration Secretary Jim Klauser, the person responsible for making Neumann a credible candidate in the first place, explains the facts to Neumann in a letter asking for his contributions back.

July 14, 2010 – Mr. Mark Neumann

Dear Mark:
It has been more than five weeks since I wrote to you requesting that you return the contributions Shirley and I made to your campaign. I asked for the return since you had assured us that you would run a positive campaign focusing on the Doyle-Barrett record. You haven’t done that. Even in these last weeks you have expanded your negative attacks beyond your primary opponent to everyone else.

Your campaign treasurer, your son Matt, told me that you would return my contribution if I refuted your claims about your opponent’s record as County Executive. You echoed those comments as well. The numbers you cite for Milwaukee County include capital bonding of $251 million which is expended over a three year period and paid-off over 15-20 years. (This was done to obtain better interest rates) Your analysis of Jim Doyle’s spending did NOT include bonding (which is considerable under Doyle).

You should know, but apparently don’t, that much of what a county government does is mandated and partially funded by either the federal or state government. County government has no control over increases/decreases in such funding. A care management organization is funded at $256 million entirely with state-federal Medicaid dollars.

You fail to mention the substantial reduction in the number of county employees under Walker’s watch. In 2000 county employees on an FTE basis numbered 7,263; in 2010 the number is 5,256. This substantial reduction indicates increased efficiency in Milwaukee County government and a savings to taxpayers.

The bottom line is you aren’t comparing apples to apples; rather your analysis is somewhat akin to fruit salad. By the way you should know, but apparently choose to ignore, that the county executive vetoed increased spending every year; these vetoes were overridden by the county board with the result of increasing spending.

You have used these misrepresented figures to claim that the county budget has increased 26% since 2006 while the state budget has increased 19%. In reality, Milwaukee County’s budget has increased 9% below the rate of inflation of 9.6% which gives Milwaukee County residents a spending reduction in adjusted dollars.

Please return our contributions.

James R. Klauser

Maybe some salsa would be appropriate. Aaron Rodriguez, who blogs at the Hispanic Conservative, explained all of this some time ago at his website.

In an effort to jump start a sluggish economy, Walker took out a loan with the federal government through the “Build America Bond” program that condensed three years worth of construction work in a 16 month window. This means that three years worth of spending was allocated to the 2010 capital budget, rather than spreading it out year by year in each capital budget. In order to increase spending without actually increasing spending, Walker required a freeze on capital spending for the 2011 and 2012 capital budgets.

This is no different than somoneone spending a month’s worth of grocery money in a single day rather than waiting to spend it incrementally each week at the store. At the end of the month, the total money spent on groceries is the same. Neumann’s calculation spans the period 2003-2010 knowing that Walker rolled up three years of spending starting in 2010. This is like Neumann checking your wallet a day after you spent the grocery money and then criticizing you for spending 4 times the amount you would have spent if you shopped each of the four weeks.

If Neumann were honest, he would have removed the capital budget completely since it’s a separate matter from the operations budget, or he would have extended his calculations to the year 2012 to reflect a proper spending increase. But the fact it took me this long to explain why context matters, means that any campaign would have a difficult time proving Neumann wrong in a simple press release. Neumann knows this, and that is why he knew his criticism would stick.

Second, let’s compare apples to apples. In Neumann’s media handouts, he compares the budget he helped propose in the 90s with the actual budgets of Scott Walker and Tom Barrett. Neumann’s budget isn’t really a budget, but a budget amendment that he and some other freshman Congressman put together. And it never actually passed, it was merely a proposed amendment.

If we’re going to judge one’s fiscal conservatism based strictly upon “proposed budgets”, then Walker would be the fiscal conservative of the year since each budget cycle he proposes a 0% property tax levy increase, privatizes jobs in various county departments, and runs a budget surplus each year. This year’s budget surplus for Milwaukee County was nearly 10 million.

And third, Walker tapped the Build America Bonds program that offered Milwaukee County a one-time low interest rate for municipalities. It was a fiscally clever idea that will save the county $3 million in the long-run.

In the process of issuing this challenge, Neumann has decided to directly challenge the talk radio personalities in Milwaukee, mentioning them by name in his radio ads. Neumann’s campaign is less about winning a campaign for governor and more about score settling. Not only should Neumann be denied the Republican nomination for governor, he should never be considered a serious candidate for public office again.

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