Wisconsin’s 72 counties will be assessing the impact of Governor Scott Walker’s budget plan. The governor’s budget cuts shared revenue to counties by $36.5 million in 2012. Wisconsin Counties Association Legislative Director John Reinemann said, while there are cuts to shared revenue in the governor’s budget, those cuts don’t come immediately. “We asked the governor’s administration to put the cuts into the second year of the biennium, or at the very least into calendar year 2012, and he did that. He acknowledged that the calendar year budgets of 2011 of local governments have already been determined, and he held the shared revenue cuts out beyond calendar year 2011,” said Reinemann.
There is also mandate relief, most controversially ending the state’s recycling mandate and ending state funding for recycling although Reinemann expects that to be more of an issue for cities. Reinemann said that will fall differently on different counties. “My initial estimation is that this is a bigger news item for municipalities than it is for counties,” said Reinemann. “I frankly can’t envision any of the recycling programs with which I am familiar going away, should this provision become law.”
Reinemann said the closure of Ethan Allen School in Waukesha County, recommended in Governor Scott Walker’s budget would save money for counties. “Larger counties have a statistical base that allows them to say with some certainty, ‘yes, we will probably have two dozen kids on average at Lincoln Hills this year.’ But for mid size and small counties, a small uptick in placements over the year can be quite a shock to their budgets.” Reinemann said the recycling provision came as a surprise, and there are a number of different surprises in almost every area of the budget which the counties association will now be getting input on.