County governments around the state are getting impatient with lawmakers. Much of the focus on the budget impasse has been its impact on school districts, but Mark O'Conell with the Wisconsin Counties Association says his members are concerned, too. Still, they want the budget done right. "The legislature could pass a budget that could be very detrimental to the quality of life in our state and the programs that counties deliver," O'Conell says. "We're not interested in a budget simply getting done."
O'Conell says there are concerns that counties will get shorted in state money for vital programs, with three particular areas of concern: Youth Aids, Circuit Courts, and Levy Limit Payment Exemptions. O'Conell says that while earlier versions of the budget from Governor Doyle and Senate provided adequate funding, counties worry that a revised budget will not. That concern appears to be well founded. In Milwaukee Wednesday, Doyle unveiled details of the revised budget he'll ask the legislature to consider in a special session on Monday. It eliminates increases of $19 million for Court Support and $3.8 million for Youth Aids which had been included in his original budget.
The Counties Association met in the Dells this week, and forwarded a declaration that asks lawmakers to address the counties' budget concerns. O'Conell says the clock is running: "department heads, county boards, county executives, board chairs, finance committees are making decisions about what we know or don't know about our relationship with the state."