Milwaukee's mayor believes federal stimulus money will help retain jobs – and keep the city safer. The state's largest city stands to get far and away the biggest share of $30 million in stimulus money, allocated to local governments in Wisconsin through the federal Justice Assistance Grant, or JAG program.
Mayor Tom Barrett says crime and unemployment are clearly linked. “Unfortunately we've seen that first hand,” he said. “In our neighborhoods where we have the most poverty, we also have a lot of crime. There's no question there's a correlation there.” Now it's up to the mayor's office and other city agencies to determine how to spend some $5.8 million. Barrett said his office will spend the next several weeks determining where to spend the money. He said that could be on everything from police overtime, to prosecution to crime witness and victims programs.
“I've already talked to a large number of my colleagues, mayors around the country, who have faced the prospect of laying off police officers or firefighters. We're hoping we're not going to be in that situation,” Barrett said. “There are a number of communities that have been able to retain police officer jobs, that otherwise would have been eliminated because of the tough economic times.”
Barrett said President Obama told the nation's mayors that this is one time money – there won't be another stimulus bill to pump up the JAG money in another two years, so they can't make the funding part of their baseline budgets.