Thursday, June 26, 2014

Milwaukee County Referendum Questions Move Forward

By Lisa Kaiser
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Milwaukee County voters might be able to vote on increasing the minimum wage, receiving federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare, and turning the county executive position into a county administrator when they go to the polls on Nov. 4. 

They were all passed by the majority of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors this afternoon.

These are nonbinding county referendums, of course, and they need to survive Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s likely vetoes.

Some supervisors took issue with them because they would increase the cost of printing the November ballot. That’s Abele’s position, too, claiming that it would add $120,000 to the cost of printing the ballot.

But Supervisor Tony Staskunas explained these “phantom costs.” To determine the “cost” of a referendum question—or any ballot question—the cost of printing the ballot is divided by the number of questions. So, yeah, each question “costs” something, but that isn’t really the cost of the question.

A number of supervisors noted that Abele seemed to have no problem with the “cost” of putting the Act 14 referendum on the spring ballot, the one that let voters slash supervisors’ pay.

Back to the questions:

  • A referendum authored by Supervisor Willie Johnson Jr. to ask if Milwaukee County wanted to get rid of the county executive model (adopted in 1960) and move to a county administrator model. This passed 11-6.

It takes 12 votes to override a veto, so the only iffy one seems to be the county administrator question. If any of these survive likely Abele vetoes, they will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, along with the anti-Citizens United referendum to strike back at corporate money in politics.

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